“We will tackle this together” is the message Sheffield councillors and South Yorkshire Police will share when they present their action plan against the knife crime ‘crisis’.
In recent years the number of serious incidents involving knives has risen in South Yorkshire.
In the past year alone in there were 22 attacks leading to five deaths and 23 injuries in Sheffield.
The council, along with community groups, South Yorkshire Police and school children, will discuss the way forward in a special presentation during a full council meeting in the Town Hall at 2pm today.
Coun Jim Steinke, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community safety, said: “We’re aware of the issues, we take them very seriously and we will keep working hard to make sure that we keep on track to reduce these types of crimes.
“This isn’t inevitable, we can make a difference by working in partnership on a range of small things that, together, will make a big difference.”
The plans include strategies to make criminal activity more difficult, prosecute those running gangs, target areas where crime is concentrated, and, crucially, involve all members of the community from major nightclubs to families.
The presentation will be given in three parts and solutions will be presented.
John Mothersole, the council’s chief executive, will give the first part and outline the current state of the perceived crisis and present the latest statistics on the issue, which coun Steinke said ‘will speak for themselves’.
The figures will show that Sheffield is has the lowest number of serious knife incidents than any other core city in England and the increase in knife crime has slowed down in the past year.
But that knife crime has seen a ‘significant’ increase and is also highly concentrated in certain areas of the city, which will be targeted in the plans.
The second part will be presented by Det Supt Una Jennings who will reveal the force’s strategies as part of Operation Fortify, Sheffield’s multi-agency approach to tackling crime.
Fortify has already been in operation for two weeks, during which time coun Steinke said much progress has already been made.
Part of the plans include making criminal activity as difficult as possible in these areas but also ensuring they do not just move to other parts of the city.
“It’s not just people lower down the chain who have been arrested, it’s people further up the chain, running the gangs, who we are looking to prosecute,” coun Steinke said.
“Hopefully we will have some high profile prosecutions in the next few months.”
The third section will be given by Carly Speechley, director of children and families at the council, and Janet Sharpe, director of housing and neighbourhoods, who will discuss how the city can best prevent crime from happening, including providing young people with life-fulfilling opportunities to avoid gang culture and supporting community groups who already do this.
Councillors will get the opportunity to ask questions and school children will also attend and get the chance to talk about their experiences and thoughts around knife crime.
Councillors said it was crucial that young people’s voices were heard in the debate around knife crime and said they will be working hard to educate them on the risks.
Coun Jayne Dunn, cabinet member for education and skills, said: “The role that education plays in our schools is vitally important here.
“Our aim is to make sure that through activities in school all year 7’s and above have an awareness of knife crime and what can happen if they make the wrong decisions.
“We will be focusing on warning them of the dangers to avoid them being exposed to situations which could cause harm.”
Progress has already been made by pubs and clubs increasing awareness of the risks of carrying knives in places such as Corporation, on Milton Street, where security scans were introduced on entry after a teenager was seriously injured in a stabbing.
As a result of The Star’s Drop the Knife campaign many have pledged their support in tackling the issue including MPs, schools, councillors and community groups.
The main three messages they are hoping to share at the meeting will be: everyone working together, everyone taking responsibility for knife crime and using numerous strategies to make a difference.
Coun Steinke said: “It’s a very complex issue and there isn’t just one magic solution, there’s a whole range of smaller things that will cumulatively make a difference.”