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Wiltshire Police Federation

Search children's bags to end knife crime says police chief

13 March 2019

The Express

A POLICE chief in one of England's safest counties yesterday asked parents to search their children's bags before they go to school in a new knife crackdown.

Gavin Williams, Assistant Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police, said mothers and fathers should know what their children are carrying when they leave home. He warned of the consequences of being armed and the devastating impact blades have on lives. Addressing parents MrWilliams, a father of three young children, said: "Check your child's bags, know what's in your knife drawer, and have a conversation with your child about the very serious consequences of carrying a knife.

"You may think these actions are a little extreme and don't apply to you and your family. However if we are going to tackle knife crime it is an approach we all need to take.

"Criminalising young people is never something we want to do but if your child sets off to school this morning with a knife in their bag, they are at risk.

"By taking action and by talking about the subject we can raise awareness and educate our communities about the risks and consequences of knife crime."

He said of Britain's epidemic of violence: "Over the last year we have all watched with horror as offences involving a knife or sharp instrument have risen nationally by eight per cent.

"These incidents can devastate the lives of young people, their families and friends, and the shockwaves in often close-knit communities can be felt far and wide.

"We are committed to robustly tackling knife crime and I hope the message will be received loud and clear when I say that using a knife or sharp instrument to threaten or harm someone will not be tolerated in our county.

"If you are caught with a knife in a public place and do not have a lawful reason for having it, you will be arrested.

"You could receive a sentence of up to four years for just carrying a knife or if you are involved in an incident where a knife is used, the prison sentence could be much longer."

In a message to the community, Mr Williams said: "It is easy to say knife crime is a police problem. But it is not as straightforward as that.

"Tackling knife crime is a police priority but it is a community problem. One that we can only solve by parents, schools, the NHS and our communities working together. As part of this community, I need to be able to count on you to support us in this fight against knife crime.

"I know most people don't carry a knife and would never use a knife to hurt someone else. But as a police officer, member of our community and a parent myself I will not be complacent in my approach or my ambition to remove knife crime from our county."

Mr Williams said Wiltshire was one of the safest places to live and had seen an 18 per cent fall in knife crime from September 2017 to last September.

His force is joining 44 others in Operation Sceptre, a national action and awareness campaign.