‘Let’s unite to prevent more knife tragedies’

TEMPORARY stop-and-search powers were given to police in Bristol for 48 hours last month following a third fatal stabbing and several other serious knife attacks.

The area involved included central Bristol, St Pauls, Easton, Eastville, Ashley Down, Temple and Fishponds.

The decision followed the death of 16-year-old Darrian Williams on February 14 after he was the victim of masked attackers in Rawnsley Park, Easton. Two 15-year-old boys have since been charged with murder and possessing a knife in a public place and were due to appear at Bristol Youth Court as the Voice went to print.

Darrian’s death came after the killing of 19-year-old Eddie Kinuthia last June and of Max Dixon, 16, and Mason Rist, 15, in Knowle West, in January. A 16-year-old boy knifed in McDonald’s in The Horsefair on February 8 remains critical in hospital while a 20-year-old suffered knife injuries in an attack in Fishponds Road on February 14. Police are also investigating a serious assault in Mina Road park on February 4 in which a 14-year-old needed hospital treatment for stab injuries.

Police consulted the mayor Marvin Rees and other community leaders before deciding to take the short-term stop-and-search measures. They have also launched a proactive operation aimed at getting more knives off the streets – but they say what is most needed is united efforts to prevent young people carrying the knives in the first place.

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Peter Warren said: “Children and young people are being seriously injured and killed on the streets of Bristol and this needs to stop.

“We are extremely concerned about the frequency of serious violence incidents involving young people in the city, many of which involve knives.
“Knife crime is a national problem and not something policing can solve on its own but we recognise there is an ongoing issue in our city which we need to put significant resources into to address.

“This new operation’s focus will be on tackling immediate problems such as those we’re sadly seeing in Bristol, but it is not a long term solution.
“Working together with our colleagues in the Violence Reduction Partnership, including local authorities, education, health and social care, we are committed to understanding and addressing the root causes of serious violence, diverting young people away from becoming involved in criminality and educating them on the dangers of knife crime in particular.”

Initiatives already under way include a partnership with NHS South West and HeartSafe to install bleed control kits across Avon and Somerset, with 200 expected to be in place by April 2024. These kits are designed to be used in an emergency, in the time between an incident and emergency services arriving on scene. They are not designed to be used instead of calling 999.

Weapon surrender bins have been installed across the force area, in which people can safely and anonymously discard of knives or weapons they are carrying. Find out more about bleed kits and surrender bins here – https://www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/report/weapons-knives/

Operation Sceptre, a national police week of action to target knife crime, runs twice a year and sees officers focus activities on prevention, disruption, and education around knife crime.

Officers carry out targeted searches in areas where intelligence suggests weapons may be stored or hidden, as well as carrying out extra patrols, targeting those who are known to be habitual knife carriers.