Knife amnesty launched in Southend
Southend now has its own knife amnesty bin after becoming the latest Essex town to launch a knife amnesty campaign.
In a move to tackle knife crime, Sergeant Kayleigh Webster from Southend’s Local Policing Team sought to have the bin donated to Essex Police by Only Cowards Carry, it will enable the safe disposal of all bladed items handed in as part of the amnesty.
The introduction of the knife amnesty bin in Southend follows bins being placed across the county. Since a trial of a knife amnesty in Tendring in 2014, more than 7,000 knives have been surrendered safely.
Since the launch of the bin, Southend’s Local Policing Team has opened the bin to discover over 30 knives and weapons have been surrendered.
The amnesty is being supported by Essex Police, the Essex Police and Crime Commissioner, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and the Only Cowards Carry charity set up by Caroline Shearer in memory of her son Jay Whiston who was stabbed to death at a party in Colchester in September 2012.
Sergeant Kayleigh Webster from Southend’s Local Policing Team and her team have been working tirelessly over the past few months to carry out a number of operations around the clock to reduce weapon related crimes and violent crimes in Southend.
In a number of dedicated operations, Sgt Webster’s team have carried out over 50 stop and searches which led to police finding and seizing over 200 knives in Southend. A total of 40 people have been charged for being in possession of an offensive weapon.
Along with continued operations, Sgt Webster believes the knife amnesty bin will take more knives off of the streets of Southend. She said: “Knife crime has a devastating impact on the victim’s family, friends and the community. Having served Essex Police for nearly ten years, I’ve seen first-hand the impact that knife crime can have.
“I decided that working in partnership with other agencies and charities like Only Cowards Carry will allow us to reach out to our community in a way that is not always possible for the police service.
“I want members of the public to feel confident in reporting and preventing crime. The amnesty bin is an opportunity for those people to dispose of the burden of carrying a knife anonymously.”
Roger Hirst, the Essex Police and Crime Commissioner said: “This is a really important initiative. We know that street violence and gang crime is a problem across the county and we are committed to dealing with it here in Southend as well.
“I’m grateful for the fantastic work of Caroline Shearer and Only Cowards Carry in raising awareness amongst young people of what the problems are and how to avoid them.
“We need young people to recognise how dangerous carrying a knife is. And we need them to have somewhere to go to get rid of whatever knives they find, or to encourage their friends to get rid of knives. The knife amnesty bin outside Southend police station provides a secure place for getting weapons off our streets.”
Caroline Shearer of Only Cowards Carry said: “Kitchen knives are used in more than 50 per cent of knife crime incidents and people that have been stabbed. Seventy-eight per cent of people that carry a knife get stabbed themselves. This could be your child, this could be your grandma or your mother.
“I urge everybody to keep an eye on what they have in their kitchen and dispose of it properly.”
Anyone who wants to surrender a knife should make sure it is fully wrapped up and placed in a secure container before bringing it to the amnesty bins.
If you would like more news about Sgt Webster’s work in Southend, you can follow her on Twitter: