Is Leeds really a safe city? Police response after seven stabbings in two months

The scene of a stabbing earlier this year on Albion Street.
The scene of a stabbing earlier this year on Albion Street.
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West Yorkshire Police are reassuring the public over the rise in knife crime.

A spate of stabbings in Leeds have left people questioning if the streets of the city are safe.

There has been seven knife crimes in the city since the beginning of October and West Yorkshire Police have moved to reassure the community.

The police have said they are working hard to reduce the number of knife crimes and will work with education agencies to warn people about the dangers of carrying knives.

What have the police said?

In a statement, West Yorkshire Police have assured the public that knife crime is a priority for them.

Police at the scene of a stabbing on Pleasant Terrace, Holbeck, Leeds on Thursday, August 2

Police at the scene of a stabbing on Pleasant Terrace, Holbeck, Leeds on Thursday, August 2

Detective Chief Inspector Simon Jessup, head of Leeds District CID, said: “Any serious assault involving a knife or similar weapon is always a cause for concern for us.

“We also recognise that violent incidents of this kind cause understandable concern in our communities.

“This type of offence will always attract a high level of response from the police to protect and support victims along with focused and detailed investigations to identify those responsible and bring them to justice. In many cases we find the victim and suspect are known to each other."

READ MORE: Seven stabbings in eight weeks, the full scale of Leeds knife laid bare

Leeds Lives not Knives. From left to right, Blacka Brown, a former offender, Sarah Lloyd, mother of Kieran Butterworth, 17, who was killed with a knife in 2013, PC Mark Rothery, and Kauser Jan asistants head teacher at Bankside Primary School, Harehills.

Leeds Lives not Knives. From left to right, Blacka Brown, a former offender, Sarah Lloyd, mother of Kieran Butterworth, 17, who was killed with a knife in 2013, PC Mark Rothery, and Kauser Jan asistants head teacher at Bankside Primary School, Harehills.

They are not treating the incidents as linked.

The have police are not investigating the seven knife attacks as linked.

DCI Jessup said: “The incidents we have seen recently in Leeds are not being treated as linked and each has had its own particular set of circumstances. Suspects have been arrested in most of these cases and enquiries are progressing."

So what are the police doing in response to the knife crime?

The force has said it is taking a 'proactive' approach to the issue.

DCI Jessup said: “Any crime involving a knife is one too many and we continue to take a proactive approach to targeting offenders and reducing the number of incidents.

“Part of that work see us working closely with partner agencies to educate young people about the dangers and consequences of carrying knives.

“Statistically someone is much more likely to become a victim of knife crime if they themselves carry knives and education around that message is an absolutely vital part of the equation.”

READ MORE: Schools issued with new guidance in knife crime clampdown

"There is a very low chance of someone being a victim of a knife attack in Leeds"

Mark Burns-Williamson is the Police and Crime Commissioner for the area. He said that knife crime in Leeds needs to be put into perspective but also warned that government cuts will exacerbate the problem.

He said: "There has been a rise in knife crime across England and Wales so the increasing knife crime in Leeds isn’t surprising because of the size of the areas we police. We are the fourth largest police in England and Wales.

"I think we need to put it into perspective. Whilst it is shocking and we don’t want to see knife crimes increase, the fear is often much higher than the reality. There is a very low chance of someone being a victim of a knife attack in Leeds. But I want to hammer home that if you do carry a knife, you are much more likely to be a victim yourself."

Social Media

The commissioner warned that social media was an issue where arguments on social media are spilling out onto the streets.

He said there are issues with social media and how things are communicated, in particular with gang relations.

This issue, in combination with cuts in Youth Services and a rise in exclusions, were an issue to be solved in knife crime.

READ MORE: "Knives aren't the answer" - Detective's message as West Yorkshire Police begins knife crime week of action

Government cuts have lead to an increase in violent crime

West Yorkshire Police's Crime Commissioner has said there is a clear link between cuts to police resources and the increase seen in violent crime across the UK.

In West Yorkshire there are 2,000 less police officers than in 2008.

Mr Burns-Williamson said: "There are nowhere near the number for a sustained effort to tackle knife crime and despite my attempts to raise the numbers, it still appears to fall on deaf ears.

"There is no government priority over policing and there is a lack of strategic leadership and just not enough funding to make policing a priority."

READ MORE: Revealed: The Leeds children aged as young as THREE suspected of crimes

The Police and Crime Commissioner said early intervention is key

However, he said that the community can help resolve these problems.

He said: "The community has a key role to play it has to be a collective effort. We can tackle this by working collectively, not just the police but as a whole system."

The force is working on a number of initiatives to educate people and to work to prevent re-offending.

More than £1,000,000 has been spent on initiatives which target youth groups and those linked to organised crime and street gangs.

The Police's schools programme has a hard hitting message - if you carry a knife, they are more likely to be stabbed.