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'We are taking knives off the streets' - police see rise in weapons seizures

Norwich Police seized this knife from a woman in the city on Saturday. Credit: Norfolk Police

Norwich Police seized this knife from a woman in the city on Saturday. Credit: Norfolk Police

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Norfolk's chief constable has defended a rise in knife seizures as the force tries to "keep a lid on violence".

Norfolk chief constable Simon Bailey. Picture: Jamie HoneywoodNorfolk chief constable Simon Bailey. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

As reported last week, the number of people caught carrying weapons in Norfolk has risen by almost half in a year - the highest rise in the country.

But Chief Constable Simon Bailey said if his officers were not taking knives off the street it would lead to an increase in violence.

"We are doing our best to keep a lid on the violence. That is the challenge," he said.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show the number of possession of weapon offences recorded by police rose by 45pc in just 12 months.

Police officers on duty. Photo: Getty Images/iStockphotoPolice officers on duty. Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

It meant that in the year ending March 2019, there were 615 offences recorded.

"If you are going to carry a knife the likelihood is you are going to be stopped, arrested and put into the criminal justice system," said Mr Bailey.

"If I wasn't doing stop search there would be a decrease in possession of offensive weapons, but what that leads to is an increase in violence.

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"Unless we have got the people out there dealing with it we are not putting it on the books because we are not detecting it. It is still happening."

Norwich police commander, Supt Terry Lordan, said he "would be concerned" if there was not a rise in possession of offensive weapons.

"A big proportion of that rise is self-generated through pro-active police work based on communities feeding us information," he said.

"We have got a very proactive team that do a lot of work targeting areas where communities have concerns.

"Every knife incident is taken extremely seriously by us as a policing team. We act on all information reported and we would encourage people to report anything to do with knife crime.

"We do not want to see a rise in any type of knife crime. We have a rise in possession of offensive weapons because we are taking knives off the streets and responding to community intelligence."

Mr Bailey added knife crime is still happening, but he is instructing his officers to target people carrying drugs or knives associated with county lines.

"I went into this knowing that drug seizures would go up and possession of weapons would go up," he said.

"They are unintended consequences."

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