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Expert claims town's knife problems have been ignored
6:00am Thursday 31st October 2013 in News
KNIFE crime: The papers are full of it.
Teenagers dying. Parents grieving. Campaigners marching.
But community safety expert Peter Carrington believes opportunities to reduce knife crime in Colchester have been missed and he fears people have, and will, continue to die as a result.
He speaks with some authority as he spent a decade as the community safety co-ordinator for Colchester.
He said: “When I left in 2010, I predicted a rise in crime because of what was happening and now more people are dying from knife crime than ever before.
“How many more need to die before we do something?”
Mr Carrington was disappointed when funding cuts meant his role, and many of the joint ventures between the police and Colcheste Council, stopped.
“Essex Police shot themselves in the foot. They need to go to young people,” he said.
“We have got to get into schools.
“Colchester Council has staff and Ann Oakes-Odger could train them.
“It has taken three years of knife crime before anything is being talked about and the problem has grown.
“It is going to get worse and something has to be done, not just talked about.”
A n n ’ s son Westley was stabbed to death at a cashpoint in Greenstead in 2005. Since then, she has worked tirelessly on knife crime reform, becoming an MBE, and is willing to do what she can to help.
But Mr Carrington fears those in charge will again miss the chance to take advantage of her experience, blaming a lack of resources.
He said: “You can’t do nothing just because you have not got resources.
“I don’t think the public realise how precarious things are.”
Mr Carrington urged those involved in a knife crime summit in Colchester in December to use the information available after a previous summit in 2009.
He said: “In 2009, we ran SayNo to Knife Crime in the town.
“Colchester was one of the safest places, but we did not want to sit back and ran an Essex-wide conference which was reported back to the Home Office select committee by Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell. It went extremely well and we had the 2Smart roadshows, teacher packs and it was successful.
“We had people from Colchester Council working with and at the police station, but this was dismantled.
“I find myself really confused because all the information is there, but there are too many people who only talk the talk.”
Tim Young, councillor for community safety, accepted much of what Mr Carrington had to say.
He said: “I agree with a lot of this, but in May 2010, there was a change of Government and massive cuts, so some of the work is not possible any more.
“We have to find a way to do things differently because police do not have the resources. I would welcome any suggestions he has.”
But Chief Insp Richard Phillibrown, district commander for Colchester, disputed the criticism.
He said: “Educating young people about the dangers of knives is a key part of the police approach to dealing with knife crime, alongside enforcement of the law.
“In Colchester, we are delivering talks in the schools by a specially- trained youth officer.
“We also have an event running through the community safety partnership, where Insp Barry Atkinson will be speaking about knife crime.
“We have Crucial Crew events, which offer ten and 11-year-olds a series of scenarios to raise their awareness of various dangers, including knife crime.
“It is important to remember that, statistically, there has been no significant increase in knife crime over the past few years in Colchester. Murders and serious assaults which involve knives do not happen often, but, understandably, when they do occur, the shockwaves are felt across the community.
“We will continue to make every effort to clamp down on people carrying or using knives.
“Just by carrying a knife, a person is running the risk of getting caught, being put before a court and sent to prison for up to four years.”
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