Editor’s Column: Work together to rid Sheffield of knife crime

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A young man whose life is cut brutally short as violence flared at a party. A father confined to a wheelchair who will never work again or walk his daughter down the aisle.

These are the victims of knife crime; it could be any one of us. In an instant, with the flash of a blade, a life snuffed out or changed forever.

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First knife bin installed in Sheffield

Knives are still easily available. Young people, mainly men, carry them, apparently to boost their egos or for protection. This, unfortunately, is the world we live in.

In many ways, the knife surrender bin initiative in Sharrow is a laudable one.

A community which sees the danger on its own streets, involving its own people, both as perpetrators and as victims, has come together to take action in a very direct and practical way.

You can see why they feel compelled to do something. Too often authorities, be it the police or the council, seem to a concerned community, too slow to act, or seeemingly unwilling to grasp the nettle. If you live in an area where kids are carrying knives, then you too might be impatient.

Thousands of knives have been handed in so far in other cities with knife surrender bins - London, Manchester and Birmingham - and there is talk of using the scrapped weapons to erect a national statue against violence and aggression.

But the police response to the bin is vague, to say the least. Asked the direct question “ do the police support the bin”?” the reply was less than clear.

A representative of the Safer and Sustainable Community Partnership Board, which is jointly chaired by South Yorkshire Police and the city council, said: “We share an absolute commitment to drive down gang culture and the use of weapons on the streets of Sheffield, and have a range of policing and partnership strategies, plans, interventions and education already in place.Our shared challenge and focus with this community based initiative is educating those that can be diverted from wanting to carry a knife, and enforcing the law against those who won’t.”

However, reading between the lines, while there may a slight difference of opinion here on how best to tackle the number of knives on our streets, there is no doubting the shared desire to rid our communities of a deadly threat. As the bin organisers recognise, there is no one answer to this problem.

As the police and city council agree, though, education is the key. Getting through to those tempted to carry knives that it isn’t cool to carry is a real challenge and will take time and community and authorities working together.