Metal scans to combat knife crime

The Star | July 19, 2008
By Claire Lewis

POLICE chiefs in South Yorkshire are to use airport-style metal detectors in areas where they suspect people to be carrying guns and knives.

Officers have already taken delivery of a number of new scanners. They will be used to support specific police intelligence - if police receive a tip-off about violence at a certain nightclub, for example.

The new tool in the war against gun and knife crime was unveiled on the day Home Office figures revealed knife crime across the county went up by 20 per cent last year.

The figures show that, of a total of over 145,000 crimes reported to police last year, 381 were classed as "knife crimes".

But South Yorkshire Police stressed not all of those incidents resulted in someone being stabbed.

If people are threatened with even a pin or a pen and police are informed, the incident is recorded as knife crime. And, if somebody is caught committing a crime while armed with a knife or sharp implement, that too is recorded even if no-one is stabbed.

Assistant Chief Constable Andy Holt said Sheffielders should not be alarmed by the figures. The figures include six attempted murders and 154 other incidents where people were wounded. But the rest were robberies where offenders armed themselves with weapons, but did not use them.

ACC Holt said: "In the last quarter of last year, compared to the rest of the year, knife crime was down by 12 per cent.

"The idea that knife crime is increasing as it is elsewhere in the country is not true."

He said a scheme called Guns and Knives Take Lives involves police visits to every school in the county, getting the message across that carrying knives and firearms can have tragic consequences.

Between April and June this year the total number of crimes reported was 32,923 - down 11.5% on last year.

House burglaries are down 11.5 per cent at 1,863 recorded offences, vehicle crime is down 9% at 4,771 offences, robbery is down 18.8% with 229 offences logged, and racially aggravated crimes are down by 26.6%, with a total of 190 offences recorded.

The detection success rate stands at 29% - up 2%.