Lancashire is one of 18 areas across the country to be allocated funding, with £1.82m from the Knife Crime Fund and £1.16m for the setting up and running of a Violence Reduction Unit (VRU).
The cash injection is part of the £100m announced for forces by the Chancellor in the Spring Statement. However, the funding was subject to the Commissioner’s office and Lancashire Constabulary putting forward detailed proposals on how the money would be spent and evaluated.
Following this process, Lancashire’s proposals have now been signed off by the Home Office and funding is already being actioned resulting in a 146% increase in stop search activity across the force last month, with 679 stop searches in July 2019 compared with 276 in July 2018.
The money will be used to fund extra police patrols in areas affected by knife crime and crime prevention initiatives including knife surrenders and work with schools, colleges and other partner agencies. Additional knife wands and bins are also being purchased and new youth zone buses will be operational in every division, offering engagement and divisionary activities.
Knife crime in Lancashire is still low compared to other neighbouring forces. Between April and December 2018 a total of 849 crimes were reported where a knife or sharp instrument was used. This is an increase of 167 from 682 recorded in the same period of the previous year or 19.6 per cent.
However, during the same period all violent crime in these categories rose by 20 per cent due to changes in recording practices.
Commenting on the cash injection, Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw said:
“I fully support the ‘public health’ approach to violent crime. We continue to lose too many young lives to serious violence and it’s crucial that all parts of our society work together to tackle it head-on and make our communities safer.
“This summer my office brought together over 50 delegates from partner agencies across the county to look at how, by working together, we can tackle this issue, recognising that this is not an issue that policing alone can solve.
“Whilst I welcome this funding to reduce crime and re-offending, a key priority in my Police and Crime Plan, I will continue to lobby for fairer funding which protects policing for the long term and provides consistent, additional resources without passing the burden onto council tax payers.”
Chief Supt Sue Clarke from Lancashire Police, said: “We are committed to keeping our communities safe so we welcome this extra funding to help us tackle violent crime.
“We know that over half of offences involving a knife happen in a private space and in most cases the offender was known to the victim, with a partner or family member often the perpetrator.
“However, over recent months we’ve also had reports of knives being used in public spaces which is clearly a concern for local communities.
“We’ve already stepped up patrols in key areas increasingly using powers like Section 60s to address identified local issues but this extra funding will enable us to do more of this work, along with other activity like crime prevention work with local schools and colleges.”
She urged members of the public to report all incidents of knife crime saying “We take all reports of offences involving a knife extremely seriously. We will continue to work 24/7 and to act on any intelligence in a bid to keep our communities’ safe and feeling safe.
“To that end, I would encourage anyone with information about knife crime to contact police or independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”
The Violence Reduction Unit is a long term initiative which will bring together Lancashire Constabulary, councils, health and education professionals, community leaders and other key partners to tackle violent crime.
It will be delivered through a multi-agency team focussed on interventions for individuals and/or communities to divert them away from involvement in violence, including, but not exclusively, knife crime. It will also support the delivery of interventions in education environments including Pupil Referral Units, with those excluded from education and those being home educated.
More information on knife crime is available here https://www.lancashire.police.uk/help-advice/safer-communities/knife-crime.