Police aim to halt rising knife crime by December in Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge

Det Sup Neil Matthews. Picture: JON KING

Det Sup Neil Matthews. Picture: JON KING - Credit: Archant

“We need the public’s help with this.”

PC Suzzanne Stanbrook talks to police and press. Picture: Tom Horton

PC Suzzanne Stanbrook talks to police and press. Picture: Tom Horton - Credit: Archant

Those were the words of the East Area Command Unit’s Det Sup Neil Matthews as he discussed the approach to tackling knife crime in Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge.

Across the area, he said the force hope to reduce total knife crime and reverse the current upward trend by December 2018.

In the three boroughs covered by the unit he said while knife crime has risen between 10 and 30 per cent compared to last year, the situation here is not as bad as in other parts of London.

“We are still relatively low, but we have had an increase,” he said.

Det Sup Neil Matthews talks to police and press. Picture: Tom Horton

Det Sup Neil Matthews talks to police and press. Picture: Tom Horton - Credit: Archant

Recorded knife crime incidents include robberies where a knife is either used as a weapon, used to intimidate or threatened to be pulled.

To get knife crime statistics under control it is important to target robberies, he said.

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Other preventative measures include a statistical analysis of when and where knife crimes are most likely to take place, so policing can be carried out in a more targeted way.

People the police either know regularly carry knives or suspect of doing so will also be targeted more directly, with previous offenders being sent letters reminding them of the risks associated with carrying a knife.

Det Sup Neil Matthews. Picture: JON KING

Det Sup Neil Matthews. Picture: JON KING - Credit: Archant

“We want to target those that have been identified as a risk,” said Det Sup Matthews.

Because knife carriers fear they may be stopped and searched by police, they are increasingly stashing blades in bushes that they can retrieve if they ever feel the need to use or carry one.

Weapon sweeps of public places are now being increasingly carried out by the police to help get these knives off the streets.

The command unit will also work with the West Ham Foundation to help protect those at risk from knife crime and gang culture.

Young people police officers suspect of being at risk will be referred to a sports scheme run by the football club where participants will have access to sports coaching in more than 80 sports including martial arts, football and boxing in an effort to steer them away from gang culture and violence.

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