As Nottingham citizens, we have had a bad time recently for knife crime in our city. There have been a number of incidents where knives have been used, one sadly resulting in the death of a young man.
One incident where a knife is used is one too many. Knife crime has a devastating impact – not only on the victims and their families, but also on those carrying and using knives and their families, and on our wider communities.
As Leader of the City Council, I share your concern about knife crime in our city.
It is an absolute priority to keep our citizens safe and working closely with the police, other partners and our communities is absolutely vital. I am pleased that Notts Police are conducting a knife amnesty and would urge anyone holding knives as weapons to hand them in.
Keeping our city safe isn’t just something we have to lay at the feet of the police. The causes of violence often begin long before a crime is committed and to truly make a difference we have to intervene early to prevent these underlying causes from emerging in our communities. I believe the solution is one in which we all must play our part and in Nottingham, partners are working closely together to coordinate our efforts.
It is important to be clear: we are making progress to reduce knife crime in our city, despite recent tragic events. Latest figures from the Crime and Drugs Partnership show knife crime offences fell in the city by 17% – from 514 to 429 incidents over the 12 months to July 2019 compared to 2018. We also saw fewer incidents of knife crime in public places over the same period – from 312 incidents down to 227 incidents.
This is still far too many. Incidents like the ones we had last week show that we can never be complacent.
Many projects are underway to tackle knife crime – particularly with groups aiming to support young people who may be at risk of involvement with or impacted by crime and violence. We have a clear strategy in the city of prevention, education, support and rehabilitation.
This includes strengthening the networks that link organisations such as the police and City Council to allow us to better identify people who might be most at risk of knife crime. This allows us to target our resources directly to them. Siblings and friends of those involved in violent incidents, and those who are witnesses, need support to not get involved in violence themselves.
This is important. While our data shows that young people under the age of 18 are less likely to be either victims or offenders in knife crime incidents, we know that we have to make an early start in making our children aware of the risks and dangers of knife crime.
Our schools, supported by the Police and Council services, are helping us to get the message out as early as possible, in an age-appropriate way. From September 2018 to August 2019, nearly 5,000 Year 6 pupils received programmes to help them to understand the impact and consequences of involvement with gangs or carrying a knife. We have also invested in more targeted support work with children in schools where teachers are worried pupils might be at risk.
We are continuing to help rehabilitate those who might be at risk of repeat offending by working with Probation to create positive opportunities including education, employment or training and finding the right support for young people and adults.
Please be assured: this work is starting to make a difference.
A safer city won’t happen overnight, but I remain committed as the Leader of the council to ensuring that it remains a top priority for everyone in Nottingham. I believe the solution is one in which we all must play our part.