The true extent of West Yorkshire's knife crime

For police officers across West Yorkshire, responding to knife crime incidents has become a daily occurrence.

Friday, 28th June 2019, 3:02 pm
Updated Friday, 28th June 2019, 4:02 pm
For police officers across West Yorkshire, responding to knife crime incidents has become a daily occurrence.

In the first three months of 2019 across West Yorkshire, there have been three homicides involving knives, one attempted murder and 137 assaults with intent to injure - all using knives.

A Freedom of Information Request by the Yorkshire Post has also revealed that between January 1, 2019 and March 31, 2019 there were 220 robberies involving knives, 134 threats to kill involving knives and 13 rapes where knives were used.

Detective Superintendent Chris Gibson, West Yorkshire Police's lead for knife crime, said: "Any incident we attend involving knife crime, our main focus is to look after the victim and to get them the treatment they need.

DetectiveSuperintendent Chris Gibson, West Yorkshire Police's lead for knife crime

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"These incidents can be very impactive and have a lasting effect on our officers.

"They have witnessed first hand the devastation knife crime can cause. They are the ones who have visited crime scenes and seen the impact it has on families that have lost loved ones.

Additional police officers have been deployed to knife crime hotspots across West Yorkshire, including Leeds and Kirklees, in a bid to provide targeted patrols and reassurance to the public.

Det Supt Gibson said: "We have recently been given a £4 million grant from the Government to tackle serious and violent crime.

"As part of this, we now have additional officers working every day, providing high visibility and reassurance to people in violent crime hotspots.

"Our analysis currently shows that Leeds and Kirklees are the two areas where the force's highest incidents of violent crime are.

"We also have additional officers patrolling the night time economy - again this is to act as a reassurance to the public."

The force saw a 20 per cent increase in knife crime in the last 12 months to December 2018, compared to the previous year.

In total, there were 2,715 offences involving knives - including eight homicides and eight attempted murders.

Det Supt Gibson says although there has been an increase in actual knife crime offences, the force's recording of offences has got better.

He said: "We have made changes to the how we record serious and violent crime and we have been graded as outstanding by HMICFRS for our crime recording so we know we are getting the most accurate reports we can.

"However, some of the increase is quite simply down to the fact that there has been an increase, in particular in young people and young adults carrying knives. We need them to know that carrying a knife is definitely not the answer."

The detective superintendent says working with key partners to educate young people on the dangers of carrying knives is vital in the fight against knife crime.

He said: "Prevention and enforcement is key.

"Tackling knife crime requires everyone to work together through a variety of approaches, from school inputs and awareness campaigns, to weapons surrenders which are always successful in taking weapons out of circulation, to actively targeting offenders.

"The number of people aged under 18 reported to be in possession of articles with a blade or point, or a knife has increased.

"Since this increase West Yorkshire Police have placed dedicated Safer Schools Officers who work in partnership with secondary schools across the county.

"As part of their role, Safer Schools Officers speak to young people about the dangers of carrying a knife/bladed instrument and the potential consequences."