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South Yorkshire Police 'mindful' of impact rise in violent crime has on officers

Det Supt Una Jennings
Det Supt Una Jennings

Bosses at South Yorkshire Police say they are ‘mindful’ to the impact the rise in violent crime has had on its officers following five stabbings in three days.  

Det Supt Una Jennings, the force lead for knife crime, said officers were being supported after some worked a 14-hour shift following the fatal stabbing of Fahim Hersi on Friday.

Mr Fersi, 22, was stabbed to death outside the cinema at Sheffield Centertainment and two other men - aged 29 and 31- were knifed on Walkley Lane, Hillsborough, in the early hours of Sunday morning.

And on Sunday night, one man was stabbed by a gang of masked men in Aston just ten minutes after an 18-year-old was knifed in neighbouring Swallownest.

Det Supt Jennings said: “We are mindful about the impact that it has on our oficers and I think we are incredibly aware that the young people we end up arresting for kinfe-enabled crime aren’t often that dissimilar to the young people who end up becoming victims of knife crime.

“There is a real tragedy in that narrative for us and a huge sense of responsilbility then for us as police offcier to get our interventions and try and break that cycle for our young people in our city.

“I think, for me, it certainly makes me more obligated that we continue to make sure Sheffield is a safe place and that we continue to protect our young people in particular.”

Det Supt Jennings, who policed in Northern Ireland for 16 years, said officers in South Yorkshire were ‘some of the best in the country’ and praised their professionalism and dedication.

She said: “Some of the things that we do to police knife-enabled crime is we will gather intelligence on people who are potential knife carriers and we will brief that to our offciers so that they can do intelligence-led stop and searches.

“We have a really positive stop and search success rate of 30 per cent, which means 30 per cent of the people that we stop are carrying weapons so that tells you we are stopping the right people.”

The wave of stabbings came as the force’s Operation Sceptre came to an end, which was a campaign to clampdown on knife crime.

Det Supt Jennings said it saw officers work with more than 35 schools, 24 arrests made and 46 knives recovered and more than 50 test purchase operations carried out across the county.

She added: “There are any number of reasons for the rise in knife-related crime but the reality is they are all opinion-based and no-one really knows.

“You will have things like socio-economic variables, changes like crime reporting rules, increased confidence in the police so people are more likely to report – all of which means we have to take a much broader approach to this and that has to be in partnership.”