Scourge of knife crime

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KNIVES are being seized from the streets of Doncaster at the rate of one every two days, according to official figures obtained by The Star.

Over a period of two years, Doncaster-based officers dealt with 278 incidents involving bladed weapons.

The youngest person arrested was a 12-year-old picked up last March for carrying a kitchen knife.

In more than half the cases the blades were being carried rather than actually used.

And police insist their crime recording methods mean many of the ‘weapons’ they seize are in fact syringe needles or screwdrivers.

But the incidence of knife crime is concerning local MP Caroline Flint, who fears a reduction in policing numbers will make the situation worse.

The Star obtained details of offences involving knives as part of the Your Right To Know campaign, which aims to highlight the hidden facts and figures affecting everyday lives in South Yorkshire.

The figures for Doncaster between October 2009 and 2011 show there were 37 offences where a knife was used for stabbing or cutting someone, and 69 where one was brandished as a physical threat.

Almost 150 were incidents of people carrying knives but not using them.

Thirty-one of the people detained by officers during the period were juveniles under the age of 18 - like 15-year-old Jordan Shaw, from Moorends, who was given a 10-year sentence for manslaughter after stabbing Joey Smith to death with a kitchen knife in Locarno Road last year. Joey, 18, suffered a single stab wound to the chest.

The most commonly-seized blades were kitchen knives, which can easily cause fatal puncture wounds. But numerous craft knives, capable of inflicting horrific slashing injuries, were also seized.

Don Valley MP Caroline Flint said: “Any rise in knife crime is a huge concern.

“In office I supported increasing the minimum sentence for carrying or using knives – but we also invested heavily in the work to prevent knife crime, particular in relation to gangs.

“Gang violence and the use of knives can only lead to more young people being killed or maimed and that’s why Operation Trident and other policing work is so vital.

“I am not the only person who is worried that this good work will be undermined by the very severe cuts in frontline police numbers we are already seeing across Doncaster and South Yorkshire.

“The Government needs a strategy for tackling gang-related violence and knife crime, instead of just a strategy for cutting police numbers.”

Supt Andy Kent, of Doncaster Police, said: “The items seized under the term ‘knives’ covers a variety of bladed and sharply pointed objects that if used against someone could cause injury.

“These can include screwdrivers, pieces of glass and hypodermic needles. The vast majority of such items seized in Doncaster fit into these categories.

“We have proactively conducted knife arch scanning operations in the town centre and across the borough over the last few years, which have resulted in very few seizures, highlighting that knife crime is not an issue in Doncaster.”