A moving vigil to remember victims of knife crime and families and friends affected by a loved-one’s death has been held in Harlow.
And our officers joined the rest of the community in reflection at the ceremony on Saturday evening 30 September.
It marked the end of a month of events and educational initiatives which accompanied the Knife Angel’s visit to the town. The Knife Angel is now on display at the Jumbo water tower next to the Mercury Theatre in Colchester until 31 October.
The 27ft tall sculpture, made from more than 100,000 seized blades, was created to highlight the negative effects of violent behaviour, to act as a catalyst for positive change and as a memorial to those who have died as a result of knife violence.
West Local Policing Area Commander Chief Superintendent Jenny Barnett says the Knife Angel has highlighted how knife crime affects whole families and communities, not just the victims.
“Fortunately, very few people in Harlow do carry knives but we want those who do to know that carrying one is not good for protection because, sadly, all too often, that knife can be turned on you and used against you. “We work hard to tackle knife crime across Harlow, using knife arches, intelligence and proactive policing to identify people who are carrying them. “And, of course, when we do seize a knife, that’s another weapon taken off our streets and put beyond use so it can do no harm. “Across the county, we’re detecting more knife offences a result of this proactive approach. In the 12 months to 31 August 2023, possessions of weapons offences rose to 1,797, from 1,525 the previous year. “But knife-related crime itself is falling. In the 12 months to 31 August this year, there were 1,521 offences, an 11.3% reduction from the 1,714 offences recorded in the year to 31 August 2022. “But we know there is more work to do and we will continue our proactive approach. “And I want to remind residents that, although the temporary knife bin installed by the Knife Angel will be emptied and removed, they can still safely deposit knives and other bladed weapons in the knife bin outside the town’s police station in The High.”
We have 14 knife bins in towns and cities across our county where you can safely deposit knives and other bladed articles.
We also work with the Ben Kinsella Trust to raise awareness of the dangers of carrying a knife.
We empty all our knife bins regularly and the contents are taken to a secure location to be destroyed. During the past year around 24,000 knives and other sharp objects and weapons, weighing a total of two tonnes, have been surrendered in our knife bins across Essex.
If you have information about someone who carries a knife or who has committed a crime, you can tell us by reporting it online where you can also speak to a Live Chat operator. Alternatively, you can ring 101.
If it’s an emergency or a crime is in progress, ring 999.
You can also contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, online or on 0800 555 111.
If you’ve been a victim of crime or anti-social behaviour, and are feeling mentally impacted by it, contact Victim Support on 0808 1689 111.
Working to tackle knife crime
Our knife bins are, of course, just one element of our wider approach to tackling knife crime.
Our operational focus includes ‘hotspot’ policing, educational inputs with partners, intelligence-gathering, using knife arches and the Open Gate system, and utilising additional powers such as dispersal orders and Section 60 powers, which are an extension of our regular stop and search activity.
We also work with partner agencies and charities to help divert people involved in, or at risk of being involved in, knife and violent crime or gang membership away from such lifestyles towards sports, education, volunteering and rehabilitation.
Research shows that carrying a knife doesn’t offer protection, in fact it increases the likelihood that an individual might be stabbed. Every time someone leaves a knife in a knife bin, they are making a positive decision to live knife-free, keeping themselves and those around them safe.
This is why we, the VVU and the OPFCC have partnered with the Ben Kinsella Trust, which was founded by actress Brooke Kinsella following the fatal stabbing of her 16-year-old brother Ben in an unprovoked attack on 29 June 2008 in north London.
One of the leading anti-knife charities, the trust campaigns against knife crime and for action and justice for those affected by it, working with more than 4,000 young people each year, educating them so they can make positive choices to stay safe and not stray into crime.
Where you can dispose of weapons in Essex
We have a knife bin in every district council area. Check to find your nearest one:
Basildon Police Station, Great Oaks SS14 1EJ
Braintree Police Station, Blyth’s Meadow CM7 3DJ
Brentwood Town Hall, Ingrave Road CM15 8AY
Canvey Island Police Station Long Road, SS8 0JD
Chelmsford Police Station, New Street CM1 1NF
Clacton Police Station, Beatrice Road CO15 1ET
Colchester Police Station, Southway CO3 3BU
Grays Police Station, Brook Road, RM17 5BX
Harlow Police Station, The High, CM20 1HG
Harwich: The Dovercourt and Harwich Hub, 276 High Street CO12 3PD.
Loughton Police Station, High Road IG10 4BE
Maldon: Promenade Park Coach and Car Park, Park Drive 5JG What3Words: ombudsman.grazes.global
Rayleigh Police Station, High Street SS6 7QB
Southend Police Station, Victoria Avenue SS2 6ES
Making the right choices and keeping safe
Find out more about the work of the Ben Kinsella Trust at benkinsella.org.uk where you will find resources for young people, for teachers and practitioners and for parents about knife crime, making the right choices and keeping safe.