A victim of a stabbing attack in Sheffield said that the South Yorkshire Police face an uphill battle in their fight against knife crime because, “You can’t stop and search everyone”.
Adam Bower, a 30-year-old army veteran who was recently attacked whilst standing at a cash point in the city centre, said he agrees with the Drop the Knife campaign, but doubts its effectiveness.
Mr Bower had just overcome a year of homelessness after being discharged from the army following a leg injury, when he was stabbed in the stomach during a night out.
He said: “The guy who stabbed me when I was mugged just looked like a normal person, I didn’t see it coming. The police investigated my case for two weeks before giving up.”
His comments come as South Yorkshire Police extend their campaign against knife crime following recent stabbings in the city centre.
Recent news suggests that knife crime in Sheffield could be on the rise.
On Saturday 30 September, five people were injured in two linked knife attacks in the early hours of the morning. Two men were charged with attempted murder and remanded in custody until Monday 30 October.
The following morning two more men were rushed to hospital after being stabbed in Area nightclub.
And only last week another man was remanded in custody on suspicion of the possession of a knife in Burngreave.
Recently the police carried out a stop and search initiative. The project led to 16 arrests and the seizure of two bladed weapons across Friday and Saturday night. Police patrol numbers were increased and a metal detecting knife arch was installed on Carver Street of which hundreds of people walked through.
The campaign aims to tell people who are most likely to carry a bladed weapon about the devastating consequences of their choices.
Det Supt Una Jennings, the force head for knife crime for South Yorkshire Police said: “[the project] was a great opportunity for us to engage with people enjoying a night out, and to get across our message that carrying a knife can cost lives, including the life of the carrier.
“We want to demonstrate and offer assurance to the public that we do not and will not tolerate knife crime. I hope this campaign highlights our commitment to tackle criminality and keep our county safe.”
However, the people of Sheffield had mixed opinions about this initiative as a way of tackling this issue.
Between March 2015 to March 2016 there was an 8% increase in the possession of dangerous weapons according to South Yorkshire Police crime statistics. Although in relation to the national average of 21% the figure for South Yorkshire is relatively low.
A female student who did not want to be identified said: “In some rough areas around here people carry knives to protect themselves, not to cause trouble. People do it to make them feel safe.”
The campaign outlines the punishments involved with carrying knives on the street. The police have warned that anyone caught carrying a knife could face a prison sentence of up to four years, even if this is for self-defence. Using a knife to kill someone will lead to a life sentence.
There are also other services in place to work against knife crime in Sheffield.
The Sheffield Youth Justice Service runs a Knife Crime Prevention Programme (KCPP) which encourages young people who are at risk to attend and learn about the laws around knife crime and the social and medical implications of carrying weapons on the street. The campaign outlines the punishments involved with carrying knives on the street, the police have warned that anyone caught carrying a knife could face a prison sentence of up to four years, and using a knife to kill someone will lead to a life sentence.
Since the project was carried out on Carver Street there have been no knife related crimes reported in the city centre. Whether the initiative had a long-lasting impact is yet to be seen.
For more information on the Drop the Knife campaign see the South Yorkshire Police website: http://www.southyorks.police.uk/help-and-advice/z-crime-types/knife-crime