COMMUNITY leaders have come together to consider how to tackle knife crime in Rugby, following a stabbing in Hillmorton.
Representatives from Warwickshire Police, Rugby Borough Council (RBC) and Warwickshire County Council (WCC) met to explore how to redouble efforts to tackle knife crime, gangs and youth exploitation in response to a non-fatal stabbing in Jackson Road on September 12.
Eight arrests have been made since the incident, and round-the-clock targeted patrols in key areas have been set up.
And police and councils want to involve schools, employers and the rest of the community to ‘think about ways we can do things differently’ and help form a new plan to tackle the problem.
Rugby Safer Neighbourhoods Inspector Sally Bunyard-Spiers, who attended the meeting, said it was an opportunity to share expertise and come together to ‘make these sorts of incidents history in Rugby’.
She said: “Knife crime is rare in our town. When it does occur, residents rightly expect to see swift action.
“On September 12, Rugby’s detectives, PCs and PCSOs worked rapidly to form a list of suspects, and eight arrests had been made within hours.
“But rapid reaction to crimes like these is only one facet of our strategy – for years we have worked alongside our colleagues at the borough and county councils to tackle knife crime at its roots.
“Whether it be an officer on the beat or a years-long, multi-agency project to tackle to the causes of crime, it is difficult to quantify exactly how many incidents have been prevented – but we do know that our work has changed lives and, while doing so, prevented many tragedies.
“We have not been able to achieve this alone, I would like to thank the community, who continue to report suspicious behaviour and criminal activity.
“Residents can now expect to see increased patrols on Jackson Road, and other areas connected to this incident.”
Also at the meeting was Jonathon Toy, WCC’s service manager for Trading Standards and Community Safety, who has dedicated many years learning how to prevent knife crime and gang violence.
He said: “This meeting is the beginning of a real opportunity to bring more voices to the table and to think about ways we can do things differently.
“We really want to get more people involved, whether it be parents, schools, young people or members of the wider community.
“This is a community problem – and we as a community can solve it.”
Jonathon spent ten years working to prevent violence among young people in South London – a period he said was both rewarding and harrowing.
He said: “When you have to meet a family who has lost their son or daughter, when you see what a tragedy it is – you begin to realise that if every single thing you have done only saves one young life then it is still worth it.”
Jonathon has used his experiences to become a leading voice in Warwickshire’s efforts to prevent gang violence and knife crime.
He said: “One of the key things we do is to work in schools. We educate young people on the choices they can make – and of the consequences those choices have.
“For those who need it, we arrange for specialist, one-on-one mentoring. There’s also a focus on employment and vocational opportunities.”
Coun Derek Poole, deputy leader of RBC and chair of the Rugby Community Safety Partnership, said: “While incidents such as the one in Hillmorton remain rare in Rugby, we know there’s no room for complacency.
“The public should be reassured by the scale of the ongoing work, both proactive and reactive, to tackle knife crime and the complex issues which often lead to it.”
Warwickshire Police said further updates will be provided as the plan takes shape.