A stabbing which left a 14-year-old in hospital last weekend has understandably caused community concerns in Swindon and I join them in expressing my horror too.
I hope a speedy recovery is on the horizon for the victim and I extend my very best wishes to their family.
But platitudes and best wishes aren’t going to tackle this growing problem.
It was only a week ago when latest crime figures revealed crimes which involved the possession of a knife had increased by 48% in Wiltshire between 2021 and 2022 - the publication of this shocking figure was swiftly followed by this particularly harrowing incident.
Carrying a knife can have life-changing consequences for all involved, as we have seen with this incident, and this issue needs a multi-agency approach and both I, and the force, will be working with our partners to tackle it head-on.
Wiltshire Police have arrested three teenagers in connection with this particular incident but I am afraid this isn’t an isolated case and there will be more knife crime. It’s a sad but real situation.
What can we do about it?
Increased, proactive, policing is one way we can help. More visible policing and proactive patrols deters crime. That is why we are working really hard to recruit more officers into police roles and are on track to have 1,165 officers by March 2023.
Most of the new recruits are destined for community policing and neighbourhood teams so you will start to see more officers on your streets.
Increased powers around Stop and Search, so that officers can proactively tackle those who may be carrying a knife, will also help. We have also recently seen an increase in sentencing powers for knife crime criminals – another welcome deterrent.
Of course, we have to be really clear that issues affecting Swindon will become, and already are in some communities, issues across the county.
Tackling knife crime isn’t just about robust policing but it’s also about looking at the root causes and ensuring all partners are working together.
The Force and my office are working with schools and councils to create an education and engagement package to support what our Neighbourhood Policing Team already does.
And we also need parents to really step up and be wise, open to what their children may be doing and what weapons they may be carrying too.
Young people, especially teenagers, need to feel safe and it needs to be reinforced at every level that carrying knives isn’t the answer to the issues they are facing.