West Midlands Police chief: Knife crime not all about gangs
Parents were today urged to talk to their children about the dangers of carrying knifes following a series of fatal and serious stabbings in the Black Country and the West Midlands.
In a direct plea to Express & Star readers, West Midlands Chief Constable Dave Thompson said he had been 'troubled' by the number of perpetrators coming from 'decent family homes' in recent weeks.
He said: "My message to parents is don't think this is all about gangs.
"What we are seeing is more and more young people involved in knife crime who have no previous background of criminal behaviour.
"This has really troubled me and that is why I am asking parents to have a conversation with their sons and daughters about the dangers and consequences of carrying knives.
"There have been a number of knife-related murders and while this is no connection between them we are seeing that young people from decent loving families deciding to carry these weapons."
In recent days 24-year-old Ryan Passey was knifed to death in Stourbridge and Callum Lees, 20, was stabbed to death in Birmingham.
The number of young people being stopped and searched by officers is expected to rise following the recent spikes in knife and gun crimes.
Mr Thompson added: "We do catch those who use knives and the reality is that when they are caught and punished they get locked up for a long time.
"Knife crime obviously has a heart-breaking effect on the victim and their families but it also changes the life for the offender and their families.
"We don't want to see any families have their lives changed beyond all belief because their loved one hasn't thought about the consequences of their actions."
Mr Thompson said that while recent stabbings were unconnected, gangs were behind shootings and gun offences in Birmingham.
He said: "There is a lot of proactive work taking place - some of it covert and behind the scenes - and I want to reassure the public this is absolutely a top priority."
Responding to whether the force was adequately staffed to meet recent demand, he said: "It has been a challenging time for us but I'm not raising the white flag.
"Summer is always a busy time and we are responding.
"I have said it is time for a conversation with government about police funding moving forward - but we do have more firearms officers than we have ever had and we are doing all we can to keep the West Midlands safe."