Council leader and PCC unite to reassure communities in wake of knife crime issues
Wiltshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner and Swindon’s new council leader have taken steps to reassure the public after a serious knife crime incident in the town left a 17-year-old child in hospital.
Both PCC Philip Wilkinson and Cllr Jim Robbins want Swindon’s residents to be aware work is underway between agencies in the town to tackle serious violence and knife crime.
Immediate responses to last Thursday’s incident in Upper Stratton saw Wiltshire Police introduce an emergency Section 60 order in Swindon - which allows police officers to stop and search anyone in a specific area without needing reasonable grounds - across the weekend. A 15-year-old was arrested and charged with attempted murder and remanded into the care of the local authorities by Saturday morning.
Mr Wilkinson said: “Last week’s events are truly shocking and, while we know the majority of these incidents are targeted around individuals, it doesn’t stop the wider public being concerned - not just in their local communities but across the whole town.
“I share those concerns and I am deeply worried by what we are seeing but I’m confident in the actions Wiltshire Police and the wider partnerships to reduce serious violence and reduce harm in our communities.
“The Chief Constable has made reducing violence and creating safer public spaces two of her key priorities and I fully support every effort being made to achieve them.
“My office has been working with our partners at Swindon Borough Council, Children’s Services and the Youth Justice Service to create a Youth Safety Strategy.
“This puts in place the long-term and evidence based solutions to reducing serious youth violence by engaging with children, young people and their families who are at the greatest risk and I hope communities can remain assured we are all working hard to tackle these problems from the root upwards.
"We know we cannot eradicate crime, and knife crime in particular, but we can work tirelessly with partners, such as the borough council, to ensure we are providing as much support and proactive policing within communities as we possibly can.
“However, we also need communities to stand with us in the fight against these crimes. Our policing teams need as much information as possible to be able to effectively target their resources and get those serious offenders and weapons off our streets.”
Mr Wilkinson and Cllr Robbins also outlined areas where both the council and the OPCC have been working to tackle serious violence with both part of the successful bids by Swindon Borough Council to secure Safer Streets funding from the government.
In Swindon, the OPCC has worked with Swindon Borough Council, Children’s Services and the Youth Justice Service to create a Youth Safety Strategy to put in place the long-term solutions to reducing serious youth violence by engaging with young people and their families who are at the greatest risk.
A Serious Violence Duty co-ordinator has also been recruited by the OPCC to work closely with councils in Wiltshire and Swindon along with a number of justice and health agencies to directly contribute in reducing serious violence in communities, again supported by funding secured from government.
Councillor Jim Robbins, Leader of Swindon Borough Council, said: “What happened last week is tragic and it’s becoming too regular of an occurrence here in Swindon.
“We know residents are worried and rightly concerned about the recent events, but I want to reassure everyone that we are working closely with Wiltshire Police, the OPCC and other partner agencies to ensure this news becomes a thing of the past.
"Tackling knife crime is a priority for our new administration and the Labour Group recently organised a knife crime summit which featured representatives from local groups trying to stop knife crime including councillors, Wiltshire Police and the families of victims of these terrible crimes to try and find ways we can stop this from happening.
“I’m pleased to see the work that is being led by the partnership and we intend to ensure that the Council support with this as much as we possibly can, including the work already being done by our outstanding Youth Justice Service who support children who have offended and help prevent from reoffending.”