Knife Crime and Serious Youth Violence Topic Review
The Committee were provided with the final recommendations of the Knife Crime and Serious Youth Violence Topic Review that were previously reported to the Committee.
Members were asked to note and comment upon the recommendations of the Topic Review Group and offer any further suggestions that could be submitted to the next Gravesham
Community Safety Partnership meeting in January 2023.
Cllr Tony Rana, as Chair of the Review Group, guided members through the report and explained that the Topic Review concluded that there were several key tasks that should be taken on board and progressed via Gravesham’s CSP namely:
· That partners needed to ensure that knife crime and serious youth violence statistics are not provided/shared in isolation but alongside supporting contextual information to give a more accurate picture of the level and nature of these crimes. This is particularly important when statistics/data are being made available in the public domain
· That the CSP review and agree the best means to communicate information on crime issues with local people, to keep them informed of the ‘real’ level of violent crime in the Borough i.e., that compared to many areas (including some other Kent Districts), crime in Gravesham is not high and the Borough is a safe place in which to live and work. This will help to build confidence, maintain perspective and challenge poor perceptions that may be held
· That efforts be made to raise awareness of the wide range of youth activities that are available to young people across the Borough, most of which are free of charge, and how to access them so that more young people will be encouraged to take part
· To understand and promote the beneficial role of Neighbourhood Watch in local communities, review the current number of active Schemes, identify areas in which Schemes could be introduced and to explore opportunities to support the expansion of Neighbourhood Watch Schemes more broadly within Gravesham.
The Committee raised concerns that that there was a general fear of reporting crimes by residents in the Borough which meant that a large number of crimes weren’t being reported to the Police. Members asked that the wording in the report be amended from ‘actual crime’ to ‘reported crime’.
In response to a Member's question concerning sentences for carrying knives, the Inspector, Kent Police advised that carrying a knife was a serious offence and currently, certain groups were lobbying for mandatory prison sentences for anyone caught carrying a knife. There were two types of charges that could be made; flick knifes/butterfly knives etc were classified as a bladed article and items such a screwdriver could be classed as an offensive weapon.
The Inspector, Kent Police further explained that the joint operation with British Transport Police and the knife arches placed at the train station were preventative work; they sent out a message to the public that people carrying knives weren’t wanted in Gravesham and they would be targeted by Police. The Inspector, Kent Police acknowledged that the knife arches could contribute to the raising of public fears about the level of knife crime but described them as essential for keeping knife crime from spilling out of areas such as London. The Inspector, Kent Police described a recent example of a young lad that was caught with a knife as a result of the joint operation and they felt they need to carry a knife to protect themselves..
The Committee thanked the officers and the Police for their hard work in completing the review.
Members noted the recommendations of the Topic Review Group and agreed for them to be submitted next Gravesham Community Safety Partnership meeting in January 2023