Stab victims won't co-operate with police because of gang vendettas, says Chief Constable

No co-operation: Stabbing victims are often involved in criminal vendettas and will not help police, says Chief Constable Stephen Watson.
No co-operation: Stabbing victims are often involved in criminal vendettas and will not help police, says Chief Constable Stephen Watson.
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Some of South Yorkshire’s recent stabbing victims have refused to co-operate with police because they are members of rival crime gangs where the victims “mirror” the offenders who attack them, Chief Constable Stephen Watson has revealed.

Some of South Yorkshire’s recent stabbing victims have refused to co-operate with police because they are members of rival crime gangs where the victims “mirror” the offenders who attack them, Chief Constable Stephen Watson has revealed.

He was speaking after the latest incident in Sheffield, where shopkeepers in Herries Road were asked for bandages by a man who entered their store with three stab wounds during Wednesday evening.

That is the latest in a growing series of knife crime incidents which have left victims, including a teenager, dead and others badly injured.

The latest victim’s injuries appeared not to be life threatening, but that was a result of good fortune said Mr Watson, as any stabbing can cause potentially catastrophic injuries.

He insisted that enforcement action by police was a “really important” element of controlling the problem, alongside education work to make young people aware of the risks involved to themselves as well as others from carrying weapons.

But he also explained the problems faced by police in investigating such crimes when both offender and victim were members or organised crime groups or urban street gangs where the offender and victim “often mirror each other”.

“Some people with injuries are refusing to co-operate with us on the basis they are ongoing vendettas.”

The bad news was that there was an “organised element” to the crimes, but the positive news for the community at large was that decent, law abiding people were not likely to come to harm on the streets of the city.

“We are very active in taking guns and knives off the streets. Stop and search is a very important feature of the powers we have. I am confident the volume of stop and search checks will increase exponentially.

“Most knife crime is done by young people. They have to be getting knives from somewhere. They must have an attitude that it is ok to carry or use a knife.

“My message to parents is do you know what your children are doing? Have you had this discussion with them? It is very much a team effort.”

Knife crime has increased “massively” compared to the situation two years ago, he said, “There is a real issue of the growth in this most serious offence and we are very actively engaged in targeting it.”

South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, said he attended a public meeting in Woodthorpe, with an MP, councillors and police present to speak to residents following a shooting there recently.

He described the reaction of the community as “mature”, with residents stating a desire to help police, though with a reluctance to give evidence in court for fear of reprisals.

The result was encouragement by police for those with information to pass it on, to allow officers to act on it and progress investigations through means which did not implicate those who were in fear of the offenders.