Radical measures call to beat knife crime

Fiona Onasanya
Fiona Onasanya
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Peterborough MP Fiona Onasanya has called for ‘radical measures’ to tackle the rapidly rising knife crime problem in Cambridgeshire.

Knife crime rose by a third in the county over the last month with a 33 per cent rise -more than twice the national rate of increase of 16 per cent.

Felix Marshall-Williams (left) and Mark Makundi (right) were both convicted of grievous bodily harm with intent after a 15-year-old boy was stabbed

Felix Marshall-Williams (left) and Mark Makundi (right) were both convicted of grievous bodily harm with intent after a 15-year-old boy was stabbed

In total there were 535 crimes involving knives in Cambridgeshire between the end of April 2017 and the beginning of March 2018.

The rise in knife crime includes the stabbing of a 15-year-old boy in a Peterborough park.

Felix Marshall-Williams (16) and Mark Makundi (18) were found guilty of grievous bodily harm with intent following a trial after the boy was left fighting for his life following the stabbing in Fulbridge Park on December 28, 2017.

Marshall-Williams told the trial he carried a knife ‘out of habit’ for self defence.

Knives handed in during a Cambridgeshire police amnesty

Knives handed in during a Cambridgeshire police amnesty

Miss Onasanya said action needed to be taken to bring the growing knife problem under control.

She said: “We need to consider radical measures outside of traditional policing such as what has been done in Scotland with the Glasgow-based Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) - which has achieved some remarkable results.

“Between 2011 and 2016, not a single person under the age of 20 was killed with a knife in Glasgow and, in 2017, not one fatality involving a knife took place anywhere in Scotland.

“Specialist officers began working with both community leaders and ex-offenders, and they decided to treat violence as a public health problem. Rather than trying to prosecute their way out of a crisis, they focused on trying to prevent so many people carrying knifes in the first place.

“Maybe we need to follow suit.”

Along with a rise in knife offences, the overall crime rate in the county rose by 14 per cent to 66,194 offences. Nationally, the rise in crime was 13 per cent.

There were also big increases in a number of other offences in Cambridgeshire - including a 14 per cent rise in sexual offences, an 18 per cent increase in violent crime, a 19 per cent rise in burglary and a 25 per cent rise in robbery.

North West Cambridgeshire MP Shailesh Vara called for focus on reducing knife crime. He said: “It is so important that local people feel safe in their community and these figures are a real concern.

“Cambridgeshire Constabulary have introduced a new policing model to better manage increasing demand across the county.

“This is of course a welcome step, but we must also ensure that effective action is taken to prevent crime and to address the recent spike in knife crime in particular.”

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire police said they were already running a number of schemes to reduce knife crime, including amnesties and education projects in schools and online to warn of the dangers of carrying blades.

Despite the rise in crime, Police and Crime Commissioner Jason Ablewhite said the county was a safe place to live. He said: “I would like to reassure people living, working and visiting in Peterborough that the constabulary continues to work hard to keep our communities safe.

“Tackling burglary and violent crime and providing wrap around end-to-end support to victims of these crimes remains a priority for me. The Victim and Witness Hub brings together specialist support agencies from across the county, all working together to achieve the same outcome.

“I know the constabulary is not taking these increases in crime lightly and am reassured to see officers running a series of Action Days (since January this year) targeting particular crimes such as burglary and county lines to both catch offenders and raise awareness of what people can do to keep themselves safe.”