Cambridgeshire Police and Crime commissioner: ‘Knife and drug crime keeps me awake at night’
Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner said the battle against knives and drugs in the county’s cities was one of the biggest challenges facing the force.
Jason Ablewhite made the admission as he explained his policing strategy for the next year at an event held in Ely.
Speaking to an audience of parish and town councillors Mr Ablewhite said: “We have worked hard to build a combined force made up from seven police forces, who once worked separately but now work together beating crime.
“This gives a combined power of £190m to spend on goods and services to safeguard the public and, yes, while I had to ask for an additional £0.50p per week in council tax, it safeguarded the 80 PCSOs we already have, and will pay for more officers on the beat.
“Historically, this means Cambridgeshire now has more police officers in 2020 than ever before, with the total rising to 1496; beating the old record set in 2004, of 1442.”
He added: “When I am asked what frightens me the most about crime, I say that the increase in knife crime and the rise in drugs sourced from the cities keeps me awake at nights.
“But together with our new Chief Constable, Nick Dean, we are determined to form partnerships with communities, schools, businesses, councils and whoever it takes to get to the bottom of why it is certain young men – usually men with no criminal background – now feel the need to carry a blade.
“We will find out why, and we will change their mindset.
“We all read about the 18-year old girl with no criminal record, who went out for an evening with her boyfriend in
Peterborough last October, had an argument with him and then stabbed him once through the heart. He died.
“She didn’t mean to do it; but she will have the next seventeen years in prison to ponder on what made her carry a blade that night.
“We have to find a way to stop this.
“That said, 95 per cent of all the knife crime in Cambridgeshire last year was drug-related, and that is the other issue we are dealing with.
“Drugs are cheap and everywhere, and because the cities are saturated with cheaper-than-ever drugs, the rural regions like ours have become a new hunting ground for the drug dealers.
“They set up pay-as-you-go, untraceable phone-lines where you can call for drugs just like ordering a pizza; you say what you want, they tell you where to go, and somebody from the city makes sure that a dealer will be there to serve you.
“ It is horrifyingly simple and very hard to stop.
“But the police work on intelligence-led operations, which means we need your help to tackle the blight of drugs in our towns and villages.
“Slowly, but surely, we are cracking down on local drug-dealers who are part of this bigger, organised chain from the cities.
“With your help, we are beating them, and we will win in the end.”