Knife crime 'contained within criminal fraternity' - and conviction rate highest since 2010
At least five people have been the victims of stabbings in Norwich in the last two months.
But police say the wider public should not be concerned as violence is generally contained within the “criminal fraternity”.
And targeted operations against violent gangs, alongside prevention work in schools, seem to be paying off.
Norfolk Constabulary posted a 30pc reduction in selected knife crime offences last year, and the highest conviction rate since 2010.
Norfolk’s chief constable Simon Bailey said many victims of violent crime are already “in the criminal justice system”, and it will not affect the general public.
“If you look at our latest robbery analysis, 57pc is people who are engaged in criminal activity,” he said.
“A significant proportion of the violent crime is being committed within the criminal fraternity.
“It is not affecting the vast majority of people. We are not seeing an increase in the number of violent incidents where injury is caused at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital.”
According to the latest Home Office figures, the conviction rate for knife crime has hit its highest level in Norfolk since 2010.
Insp Darren Brooks, of the community safety team at Norfolk Police, said it is the result of two years of focused targeting of violent gangs, alongside prevention methods.
“We have a zero tolerance approach to enforcement, but we also want to prevent it in the first place,” he said. “There has been a lot of work around reporting and enforcement with Operation Gravity,
“Of course we have to respond to incidents and we will, alongside proactive and intelligence driven work.”
Posters and leaflets have been distributed around custody suites and partner agencies in an attempt to reach out to those most at risk of knife crime.
And Norfolk Police has signed up to Operation Sceptre, a national initiative to keep a watchful eye on retailers.
“As part of Op Sceptre we do a lot of education in retailers who sell knives, and carry out test purchases to ensure compliance with legislation,” added Insp Brooks.
He added police are drawing on the Safer Schools Partnership to reach out to the county’s children, and have created a “thought-provoking” film on the risks of knife crime which has been launched in schools.
“That has been taken to 130 different year groups in more than 40 schools across the county, so lots of children are getting that input,” he said.
“While Norfolk is a safe place to live it is important to highlight how things can go wrong, so we want young people to think about making the right choices.
“These choices can end their life or save their life. We do hear some of the news stories coming out of London and a lot of the knife crime involves younger people. We can’t ignore the fact there is a risk.
“Kids usually are exposed to more and we want to make sure we get in early and prevent them falling into the Op Gravity world.
“The message is if you carry a knife, you are more likely to get stabbed than if you don’t carry one.”
Insp Brooks added knife crime is a “societal issue”, and depends on teamwork between police and their partners.
“We have to always be able to react with enforcement, but if you get all the systems in place we get into schools with education on the networks around drugs and criminality, we are better able to deal with how things emerge and change,” he said.
“In a way it is irrelevant who carries the knife, someone will get hurt.
“The vast majority of people are not going to see it. We have to target those few that are considering or do carry knives.”
According to the latest Home Office figures, selected knife crime offences fell in Norfolk by 30pc last year, from 335 to 230.
And the number resulting in a conviction or caution rose from 277 to 286, the highest since 2010.
Mr Bailey added: “Police officers feel more confident in being very proactive and tackling this threat.
“What they understand and value is the fact they have the numbers to be able to do that with confidence.
“That results in seizures, conviction rates, and a very strong message going out that of you are going to start carrying knives you risk being put before the court.”
Blades can be handed in at any police station front counter. Anyone with information about knife crime should call Norfolk Police on non-emergency number 101, or 999 for a crime in progress.
Information can be left anonymously with Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
Over the last three months of 2018, at least seven incidents occurred in Norwich in which people were stabbed.
November saw the largest number of victims in reported incidents, with four people subjected to knife attcks.
On December 14, a man in his 30s was stabbed in St Augustine’s Street, receiving superficial wounds.
On November 21 a man in his 40s suffered stab wounds at his home on Godric Place after answering his door.
On November 14 on Thorpe Road two men were stabbed around 3.20pm.
On November 8 on Riverside Road, two women aged in their 60s and 70s sustained knife injuries.
On October 24 a man was stabbed in the chest and robbed in Castle Gardens.
On September 28 police were called to Jewson Road after reports of a disturbance inside the property. They found a man in his 30s with serious injuries, including a stab wound to the leg.
On September 10 a man was stabbed on Angel Road, near the Angel Gardens pub.
More than 700 knives were collected from an amnesty bin set up outside Lowestoft police station in September.
The bin was put into action by Suffolk police as part of Operation Sceptre, a campaign highlighting the risks of carrying a bladed weapon.
It comes as figures from Suffolk Constabulary revealed there were 404 reported incidents involving bladed items between March 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018.
Previous figures for the period from March 1, 2016, to March 1, 2017, showed there were 300 recorded incidents involving knives reported to the police.
The latest Home Office figures show that selected knife crime in Norfolk and Suffolk has fallen for the first time in years, and police say incidents usually do not affect the wider public.
The amnesty bin will remain outside Lowestoft police station for those who wish to use it.