Police public meeting hears knife crime and drugs fears
- Credit: Simon Parkin
The dangers posed to young people of copycat knife crime was raised at a public meeting held in Diss that followed an incident involving gangs in the town.
Dangers of posed to young people of copycat knife crime was raised at public meeting held in Diss that followed an incident involving gangs in the town.
Norfolk's Police and Crime Commissioner Lorne Green and Chief Constable Simon Bailey held a public meeting at Diss Corn Hall on Monday (March 11) to give people the opportunity to share views, issues or concerns about crime and policing in their area.
The meeting, one of a number of regular Q&A events around the county, comes after police wrote to residents to reassure them after stepping up patrols in response to concerns about gangs and a teenage fracas that led to three arrests.
Despite rumours that the incident had involved a knife no weapon was found. Police subsequently increased patrols. However the issue of knife crime was among the issues raised at the meeting.
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Diss town councillor Julian Mason said: 'We are all aware through the national news of the problem of knife crime and the dangers of it creeping closer but can we be confident that enough is being done to tackle it? It is very easy for copycat crimes and for young people to follow what they see on social media.'
Chief Constable Simon Bailey said: 'We are doing our level best to education young people about the risks of carrying knives. We have gone into every secondary school in the county. Our communications team have just produced a fantastic film about the risks of knife crime and that is also going into schools.
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'So we are trying to tell young people wherever we can and to talk to them about the risks that they are being exposed to: the risk of being exploited through county lines, the risk of child sexual abuse, as well as the dangers of carrying a knife.'
Earlier Mr Green undertook a walkabout in the town centre where he spoke to a group of teenagers in Diss Park about the issue of knives and gangs.
He also spoke to local businesses, including furniture store Hilary and Alice, about increasing opportunities for young people including the idea of a graffiti project.
He told the meeting: 'I have grandchildren of the age of the young people I met, so it concerns us all. I think that young people are bored and modest things, like a graffiti wall, can tap into their creative energy and banish some of that boredom.'
Other issues that were raised at the meeting included anti-social behaviour, rural crime, traveller sites and problems reporting information about crimes on the dedicated 101 number.
There was also discussion about how police and other agencies, including councils, mental health teams and the NHS, needed to work more closely.
Also on the panel were Deputy Chief Constable Paul Sanford and Chief Inspector Kersty Brooks who gave the meeting an overview of crime and police activity in the district. The impact of drugs on local crime was raised.
Asking what is being done to tackle the problem, Diss town council leader Simon Olander said: 'There is an underbelly of drugs in Diss involving a small number of people and that has changed.'
Deputy Chief Constable Sanford said: 'The vast majority of those arrested being for drugs you won't see here because a lot are not just outside of Diss but outside Norfolk, but it is their drugs that are feeding the issues here. I can hand on heart say that I do not think that there is a rural shire force that has put more effort and drive into arresting the people responsible for that sort of criminality.
'The trouble with drugs is you win lots of battles but never the war. But we are determined to repel it as much as possible. And I do know that we are having an impact particularly when I look at the sorts of crime caused by in other parts of the country, the type that has been played out in the media over the past couple of weeks. We are doing our damndest to repel that.'