Big debate over spate of fatal stabbings in Sheffield​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

A public meeting to discuss how to break the cycle of knife crime following seven fatal stabbings has sparked further debate among Star readers. 

Residents attending the meeting at Zest community centre in Upperthorpe on Thursday urged Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, and Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield to come up with long-term solutions to the problem of knife crime. 

Paul Blomfield MP and Dr Billings at the meeting.

Paul Blomfield MP and Dr Billings at the meeting.

Audience members said the authorities should look at the root causes of why young people are picking up knives – such as lack of education and employment – and come up with a plan of action.

There was a mixed reaction among Star readers on the best way forward, with some agreeing that a more sympathetic approach would work but others called for more enforcement action. 

Peter Barlow posed on Facebook: “Here is a solution – anybody caught in possession of heroin, crack or spice should be held in solitary confinement with no visitors for a minimum of two years.

“The crime figures would soon drop with some proper punishments.”  

But Darren Brackenbury disagreed and said: “Green Britain was wracked with crime during the Victorian period when punishment for offences was as harsh as you suggest.

“It illustrates that punishment doesn't actually work.”

He added: “The only real long term solution is to reduce inequality and offer better life opportunities. There's a reason crime was so high in the Victorian period and that is poverty!”

Chris Carter believes it is time to decriminalize drugs. He added: “Portugal did it and their crime rate is a lot lower than the UK.” 

Dr Billings told the public meeting that while enforcement tactics such as stop and search would remain “in the right proportion”, a joined-up approach by the authorities to look into root causes and long-term solutions was the best way forward.