Sheffield anti-knife campaigner has “bad feeling” about this summer but South Yorkshire Police ensures it has “robust plans in place”
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Anthony Olaseinde, founder of Always An Alternative, previously told how he had seen little change in Sheffield in regards to tackling knife crime.
He is disappointed by the lack of progress, and recent stop and search statistics released by South Yorkshire Police, has added to this disappointment.
Anthony said: “It keeps happening decade after decade after decade. The police must think that’s fine.”
He regularly reviews knife crime statistics and told how the latest dataset he received, showed that young white men were more likely than young black men to be involved with knife crime, but regardless, young black men are more likely than young white men to be stopped.
Anthony has suggested that the police could better support community based groups with youth violence prevention, as groups like his “know how to do the work on the ground”.
He explained: “Anytime the police get involved, they arrest. It may be that a young person just needs to be worked with if it's their first time. They may have made one wrong decision.”
Anthony is concerned that knife crime has gotten worse amid the challenges of the pandemic, and he has a “bad feeling for the summer”.
He explained: “The pandemic has masked it. It’s even worse now. Serious youth violence has been bubbling up as a result of mental health, loneliness, and isolation.”
He added: “It’s showing the community that we can work together. There’s not much trust with the police. They need someone like me to build that trust.”
Superintendent Ian Proffitt, force lead for armed criminality at South Yorkshire Police, said: “Sadly, as a force, we are all too aware of the consequences and impact that knife crime can have on individuals, families, and whole communities.
“Like many of our policing colleagues across the country, knife crime continues to be a priority for us and has remained so during the Covid-19 pandemic. We have robust plans in place to tackle any emerging issues following the releasing of lockdown restrictions in the coming months.”
South Yorkshire Police is currently tackling knife-enabled crime and violent crime in the area via stop searches and vehicle checks, warrants, knife arch operations and high-visibility patrols in affected areas.
Local neighbourhood teams are disrupting drug supply networks as part of this work and additional resources have also been deployed to tackle organised crime.
Supt Proffitt told how “the links between violent crime and drug supply is clear and needs to be more widely understood by the public” and combining enforcement with education is “absolutely vital”.
He added: “Through Operation Fortify we have strong links with local schools and community groups who are helping share messages about the consequences of knife-enabled crime.
“In many parts of the city, these relationships are stronger than ever, and we are always seeking new allies in our communities to help encourage reporting and support intervention work.”
Families are urged to speak to their children, listen, and encourage them to “drop the knife before they do irreparable damage”.