By David Spereall, local democracy reporter
West Yorkshire is almost “at the point of no return” when it comes to knife crime, according to a former Armley councillor now in charge of policing and crime in the region.
Alison Lowe, West Yorkshire Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, said a number of high profile stabbings, many of which had proved fatal, had meant a “really difficult” few months for the region – including two fatal stabbings in Armley.
She was speaking at a meeting of the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel on Friday, and told members that new programmes to tackle knife crime were being proposed, adding: “What we have done in the past isn’t working.”
The meeting took place on the same day it was announced that a week-long knife amnesty would be held in Bradford starting on Monday.
Those surrendering knives or weapons at Trafalgar House Police Station between April 24 and April 28 are not required to give any personal details, and will not face prosecution for carrying them to surrender.
Bradford is currently hosting the Knife Angel statue – a 27 foot high statue made up of 100,000 knives that have been taken off the streets through programmes such as knife amnesties.
Giving an update on policing issues in West Yorkshire at Friday’s meeting, Ms Lowe spoke about the number of violent crimes involving knives that have happened in recent months.
She said: “We’ve had a really difficult six months, and there is a lot of worry in our communities.
“I don’t want to minimise this by saying knife crime is reducing, but the reality is the number of homicides this year is greater than last.
“We want to work with young people, local authorities, schools, academies – they all have a role to play.”
She said the local violence reduction unit had commissioned a research project that will see 19 young people speak to other young people about issues such as knife crime and street violence. This will involve asking young people why they feel the need to carry a knife.
Ms Lowe said: “We have to start doing things differently. Young people are scared.
“We’re getting to the point of no return – if we don’t start doing things differently then the shame will be on us.
“What we have done in the past isn’t working.”
Referring to the Knife Angel in Bradford, she said: “I’d urge people to go see it. I hope it triggers conversations across communities. I’m pleased to see the knife amnesty too.”
She also supported recently announced Government plans for tougher restrictions on the sale of machetes and “zombie” knives.
Members were also told of recent work to shut down a shop in West Yorkshire that was found to be selling dangerous knives, although Ms Lowe said she could not give details of which shop it was.