Knife crime top priority for new community safety group
20th October 2017
Tackling the disturbing rise in knife crime will be the first job of a new public safety group in Gloucestershire.
Safer Gloucestershire will use the findings of independent researchers Cityforum and the University of Gloucestershire which spent several months assessing the extent of the problem and why young people feel the need to carry knives.
Safer Gloucestershire will work closely with the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), local authorities and other partnerships such as the Health and Well Being and Youth Justice Partnership Boards.
Its task will be to continue the debate and try to find an antidote to the number of shocking events locally which have resulted in death and serious injury.
Gloucestershire's Chief Fire Officer Stewart Edgar, who chairs the new board, said: "Safer Gloucestershire is in its infancy but we are aware that across the county lots of good work is being done to make our neighbourhoods safer.
"We know that Gloucestershire is a safe place to live but a number of tragic and high profile incidents that have occurred go right to the heart of the community. And while we have an excellent reputation for community engagement and support, it can be a bit random and un-coordinated in places.
"Our aim is to bring it all together into one operation that will change habits and provide a long lasting solution".
Safer Gloucestershire's role follows a high level meeting earlier in the year when Gloucestershire's Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Chris Brierley brought together a wide range of representatives from the criminal justice, health, education, social and political sectors to consider issues around violent crime.
Mr. Brierley said, "While all the evidence indicates a low volume of knife crime in the county, it attracts a level of publicity which raises its profile disproportionately. The research also suggests that knife crime cannot and should not be attributed to one single demographic.
"To say it's because more young people carry knives - as some people do - is just too simplistic. That may be one symptom but it's much more complex and the solution required will need to have many strands to it."
Recently Home Office Minister Sarah Newton referred to the growing body of evidence that suggested knife crime and youth violence should be viewed as a public health issue, echoing the approach taken in major American cities.
Gloucestershire police are often called to incidents where people with mental health issues might be trying to self-harm and have a bladed weapon because the county is known to have a high level of self-harming.
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