Express & Star

Grime music linked to knife crime rise

Violence glorified in television, music and computer games is at the heart of an increase in knives on the streets, police chiefs have warned.

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Supt Carl Ratcliffe with recovered knives

Knife crime in the West Midlands and Staffordshire has increased year-on-year according to latest figures.

In Staffordshire it has gone up from 643 incidents in 2014/15 to 967 cases in 2016/17 - 50 per cent.

And in the West Midlands, it has risen from 388 knife crimes between October and December in 2014, compared to 654 for the same period last year..

It comes despite repeated knife amnesties held by both forces, including next week's second annual knife amnesty in Staffordshire.

Some of the knives recovered

Last year the force's amnesty saw more than 1,100 weapons handed in and incidents reduced by 18 per cent during the period.

Speaking to the Express & Star, Mark Harden, youth violence co-ordinator at the force, explained some of the factors behind the growing 'threat'.

He said: "Based on national research and professional opinion some of the reasons are in what people see and hear on a daily basis.

"You have only got to listen to certain forms of music, such as grime, their backing singers aren't exactly Take That.

"There seems to be this culture that it is safe and cool to carry a knife when clearly all the research says it isn't.

"It can have life-changing consequences for victims and their families.

"Listening to our young people and individuals who have carried these knives the feedback is about what they have listened to, seen and read.

"In terms of where they are getting the knives, the limited research and findings suggests many of the knives are coming from the household.

"There is evidence that some are being sold over the shop counter. The message is to shopkeepers please be responsible and keep to the over 18s policy.

"And there is also evidence that some get sold over the websites, which is a national concern."

He added: "There has been a 16 per cent increase in knife crime in Staffordshire in the last year, but this is not just about the county this is a national threat.

"Too many knives are being carried and used in crime across the country.

"Staffordshire Police has been working with partners to combat this and the key messages are around education, awareness and enforcement.

"Our request is to people who have knives in their homes and garages to seek them out and dispose of them.

"We want to reduce knives used in our communities and reduce the victims of knife crime."

PC Paul Hamilton pictured with one of the fearsome knives handed in at last year's knife Amnesty at Staffordshire Police Headquarters in Weston Road, Stafford.

Knife crime is also a problem in the West Midlands where a number of high profile stabbings have made the news.

The stabbing of 26-year-old James Brindley in Aldridge last weekend follows that of Tina Billingham, Kulwinder Kaur, Anne Marie James and Tracey and Pierce Wilkinson, who have all died from stab wounds this year.

Last week, the family of Mansoor Mahmood are desperately appealing for information after he too was stabbed to death outside a takeaway in Brierley Hill last year.

A West Midlands Police spokesman said: “It is important to stress the responsibility for tackling knife crime sits with all of us - police officers, parents, teachers, licensees, friends - and it is vital we all work together to change behaviours and stop people carrying these potentially deadly weapons.”