Ashley Bertie: Knife surrender bins are saving lives
"The knife surrender bins are saving lives. One less knife on our streets means one less opportunity to inflict pain."
Those are the words of assistant police and crime commissioner for the West Midlands Ashley Bertie, after it was revealed the force had seized 340 blades in eight months as part of their latest blitz against knife crime.
He said that while the amount of weapons that have been handed in is worrying for the region – he added that it is also encouraging that people are saying "enough is enough" against knife crime and want the weapons off the region's streets.
The 340 weapons were dumped in 13 knife bins across the region – including four sites in Wolverhampton and one each in Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall – since August 2018.
Yesterday Mr Bertie was shown some of the weapons that had been handed in across the region – which included blades of all sizes, kitchen knives, screw drivers, machetes and zombie knives.
He visited Tabernacle Baptist Church, off Dunstall Road, in Wolverhampton, where one of the surrender bins is situated.
Mr Bertie said: "One knife off our streets means one less knife that can be potentially used to harm someone or even kill somebody.
"It is worrying the amount of weapons that have been handed in, very worrying, but it is also very encouraging as well. What we are seeing is people saying enough is enough – and getting rid of the knives and getting them off our streets, keeping people safe.
"We want to continue to encourage people to do that, we have to make sure that we use all of our resources, all of our will, all of our power, to make sure that all of the knives and all of the weapons are off our streets.
"It is a wide range of people who are handing in these weapons through the surrender bins – it is parents, it is people who could potentially use them, it's young people, it's everyone. We have to continue to push that message, that if you have a knife or if you know someone who is carrying a knife to put them in one of our weapon surrender bins and get them off our streets.
"I most definitely think these bins are saving lives – we need to ensure we get all these weapons off our streets. One less knife on our streets means one less opportunity to inflict pain on a young person, not just on that person but their family and society at large.
"These weapon bins are very, very successful – they are crucial to rid the streets of knives in the West Midlands."
The surrender bins have been rolled out across the West Midlands as part of the forces efforts to tackle the region's knife crime epidemic, which has seen knife crime rocket by 85 per cent since 2012.
The force has pledged to install more surrender bins in the coming months – and Mr Bertie said they are working with local communities to install the surrender bins where they want them.
He said: "Knife crime is certainly an epidemic – it is a national epidemic and more and more people are starting to realise that. These weapon surrender bins have proven to be a success and we will continue to roll them out across the West Midlands.
"As we know, if you have one knife out there on our streets, that is one knife that could be potentially used in a murder. To be able to continue to push the message that knife crime has no place in the West Midlands or indeed the country, and get these weapons off our street.
"We have 13 knife surrender bins in the West Midlands currently and there are a number of places where we will put them – but we have to ensure we work with local people. We don't put bins in areas which local people don't want them. Where people say they want them installed, we will work with them to ensure we install them in those areas.
"I would encourage everybody who has a knife or any other type of weapon to go to one of the weapon surrender bins and get rid of them. We have seized 340 so far and we will continue to seize more."
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