How our specialist teams tackle knife crime in Essex
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We don’t just investigate knife crime, we take weapons off the streets and ensure dangerous criminals are put behind bars.
Those are the words of Detective Chief Inspector Neal Miller, who heads up our dedicated serious violence unit.
“Although Essex remains a safe place and residents are unlikely to become a victim of knife crime, we are never complacent in identifying and catching those who carry knives and weapons. “Every day my team works to track down criminals, make arrests, and charge offenders. “We are all too aware that knife crime destroys lives – of victims and perpetrators. “We know you are much more likely to be a victim if you are carrying a knife – no matter the reason.”
Very few people in Essex will be affected by violent crime. Countywide, there were 1,228 fewer violence with injury offences in the year to the end of July – a decrease of 7.6%.
But on the rare occasion a knife is used to take a life, we act swiftly and robustly to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Just last week, a woman was convicted of stabbing a man in Harlow.
Detectives from our serious crime directorate led the investigation, and due to the weight of evidence against her, 26-year-old Cayleigh Reid was convicted of GBH with intent.
She is due to be sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court on 2 October.
Perry Coulson, 39, of Lesney Gardens, Rochford, was jailed for life, with a minimum of 16 years, at Basildon Crown Court on Friday 11 August.
His sentence concluded a thorough investigation led by Essex and Kent Serious Crime Directorate.
Coulson fatally stabbed 32-year-old father of two Dominic Clark-Ellingford following an argument at an address in Rochford.
We also tackle knife crime by reducing opportunities for offenders to carry knives.
With Operation Grip we conduct patrols in crime hotspot areas, gathering intelligence, using ‘Opengate’ operations, and additional powers such as stop and search and dispersal orders all help to identify individuals carrying weapons or drugs.
OpenGate weapons detectors are more mobile and less conspicuous than a conventional knife arch and are used in pop-up locations across the county.
This work is not just carried out by our serious violence unit, but encompasses our CID, community and local policing teams and intelligence officers.
We work with education, health and local authority partners as part of a multi-agency Violence and Vulnerability Unit, as we want to lift vulnerable young people out of a criminal or gang lifestyle so often associated with knife crime.
We work with organisations and charities like Open Road to help people make positive changes to their lives.
But we also take a tough line on offences when they do occur, and we can use gang injunctions as enforcement tools where needed to prevent an offender returning to former criminal associates.
But what we know is that knife crime and violence is not an issue the police can tackle alone, and we work shoulder to shoulder with partners to address it.
DCI Miller added:
“We are incredibly lucky to have so many partners, such as the Essex Violence and Vulnerability Unit, which believes, the same as we do, in a joined up approach to tackling this issue. “A key focus is to help divert people who are involved in, or at risk of being involved in, knife and violent crime away from this lifestyle and into areas as sports, education, volunteering, rehabilitation. “This is a battle that we as a community must fight together. “That includes educating our children about the reality of being involved in gangs and the reality that carrying a knife will not protect them. “In fact, it is more likely that doing so will lead to them becoming a victim of crime or them hurting someone else.”
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