Merseyside Police will “double down” on efforts to combat knife crime amid a spike in incidents and communities living in fear.
In the space of a week, six people across the region were stabbed in a series of incidents that led to a man losing his life and others being seriously injured.
During a scrutiny panel convened by Emily Spurrell, Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner, Assistant Chief Constable Jon Roy said despite knife crime coming down in previous years, communities can be left shaken by serious violence.
ACC Roy was questioned by Bisi Osundeko, independent scrutiny advisor, who shared with senior officers experiences she had been made aware of. She said: “I’ve been really disturbed by the increase in knife crime incidents across Merseyside.
“While some of these are quite disturbing, we’ve heard stories of teenage boys being stabbed after fights and I know friends and families who have said to me they are scared of allowing their young ones to go to the park to play. We’ve also heard stories of a 14-year-old who was walking through a cemetery and he was threatened with a knife.
“I worry this isn’t just about the victims and the criminals, it’s also about the wider community as well. There is a lot of fear out there, most of us are scared about being threatened or stabbed.”
On Tuesday 5 September, Matthew Horton was stabbed to death at around 11.35pm, inside Sefton View flats, on Moss Lane, in Litherland. The 32-year-old, whose nickname was Babs, was treated by paramedics but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
He was one of six people targeted in the space of 48 hours.
ACC Roy said Merseyside Police has been working hard to reduce the impact of violent crime on our streets. He said, “We have, over a significant period, put a huge effort into tackling knife crime, linked to our approach to tackling serious violence.
“We have a dedicated superintendent lead and we bring together our operational target, which is our serious violence and knife crime operation, with our drugs operations and our preventative work through the violence reduction partnership. That said we have seen an increase over the last two months in knife related incidents and knife related violence, particularly involving young people.
“Overall serious violence has reduced 8.7% year-on-year compared to last year and last year we reduced it by 15% with a significant increase in young people under 25 being admitted to hospital.”
ACC Roy said despite the spike in incidents earlier this month, knife crime was reported to be down by 11% on last year across Merseyside and officers were keen to address feelings of safety and fear across communities. He added, “We’ll double down on our efforts; the hotspots work, the community engagement work and the local policing teams linking in with young people and communities.
“I am really conscious that although there is some really good work going on, communities do still on occasion feel scared and don’t necessarily reflect community confidence and feelings of safety, doesn’t reflect the fall in actual crime itself and single incidents like we’ve seen in recent weeks really impact that.
“There’s a real commitment from the force to do two things; one is to redouble our efforts in reducing knife crime and that ongoing community engagement work is one of the chief (constable’s) priorities of our community engagement strategy.”