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Tackling Knife Crime: A Unified Approach

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In recent months, Bristol has been shaken by a series of tragic incidents involving fatal stabbings, particularly among young people. The deaths of these teenage boys highlights a pressing need for action to address knife crime in our community.

As your PCC, I want to ensure the safety and well-being of all the residents of Avon and Somerset, especially our youth. That’s why I’m supporting the police’s launch of a new proactive operation dedicated to tackling and disrupting serious violence and knife crime involving young people.

The operation will be comprehensive, with activities spanning across our policing area but with specific focuses on hotspots where such incidents have been prevalent. Starting with intensifying their effort in Bristol, following the number of recent heartbreaking losses and the critical injuries inflicted in this area.

If you have concerns about someone’s involvement in serious violence or knife crime, I urge to report it. Whether through calling 101, utilising online platforms, or contacting Crimestoppers anonymously via 0800 555 111, every report contributes to the collective effort to make Avon and Somerset safer for everyone.

Together we can stop this violence and build a community where every individual feels safe and protected. Let’s stand united against knife crime.”

Mark Shelford, Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner

What is being done?

Immediate Plans: Enhanced Stop and Search Powers

One immediate response to the escalating situation is the temporary granting of enhanced stop and search powers under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act.

These powers, effective immediately, allow officers to conduct searches without needing reasonable grounds for suspicion within designated areas identified as hotspots for violent crime. This step is crucial in ensuring that potential threats are intercepted, and lives are safeguarded.

Officers will be focusing on looking for weapons and removing face coverings like those worn in the recent attacks.

The new operation will involve a collaborative effort from officers and specialist police staff across the force, focusing on identifying individuals at risk of carrying knives and intervening to prevent further harm. Additionally, efforts will be made to safeguard vulnerable individuals from becoming victims of violence.

Enhanced stop and search powers are not deployed lightly. This is a temporary measure (24-48 hours) Extensive consultation with community leaders, including the city’s mayor, preceded this decision to ensure transparency and address any concerns.

On going work

Contents of an emergency bleed kit

Long-term plans to create lasting change that safeguards young people across Avon and Somerset from harm cause by knife crime, which is why partnerships across the police, the Violence Reduction Partnership and other community stakeholders are crucial.

Examples of current work happening:

  • Operation Sceptre a targeted police initiative aim to prevent, disrupt, and educate around knife crime through targeted searches, extra patrols, and educational sessions in schools and youth groups.
  • Bleed Kits installed by NHS South West and HeartSafe control kits across the region, with 200 expected to be in place by April 2024. These kits are designed to be used in an emergency, in the time between an incident and emergency services arriving on scene.
  • Surrender Bins installed across our Avon and Somerset, in which people can safely and anonymously discard of knives or weapons they are carrying. Since 2016, there have been over 4,000 knives and weapons surrendered through the weapon surrender bins.
  • Prevention workshops organised by the VRP to raise awareness of campaigns co-created with young people covering topics such as serious youth violence, exploitation, County Lines, knife crime and negative influences of social media.
  • Community mentoring and youth work delivers bespoke individual, trauma informed support which predominantly targets boys and young men who are disproportionately affected by knife crime.

Next Steps

The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) is convening a meeting to bring together key stakeholders, including community leaders, support services, police representatives, and members of the Violence Reduction Partnership (VRP). The group will assess the efficacy of current strategies, identify areas for improvement, and explore innovative approaches to combatting knife crime.

If you are concerned or worried that someone you know may be involved or at risk of serious violence, involving knife crime, please report it via 101, online or by calling the independent charity Crimestoppers 100 per cent anonymously on 0800 555 111.

If you have information about last night’s fatal stabbing in the St Philips area of Bristol please either call 101 quoting reference 5224039827