‘Knives end lives’ – warning by West Midlands Police

Tackling knife crime throughout the region.

West Midlands Police have reiterated their determination to clamp down on knife crime in the wake of two fatal stabbings last week. The deaths of two Birmingham teenagers rocked communities across the city and served as a shocking reminder of knife crime’s devastating impact.

Joshua Ribera (18) died from knife injuries sustained outside a Selly Oak club on Friday night just four days after 16-year-old Azim Azam was killed in Moseley following a dispute on a bus. A 17-year-old lad has been charged with Azim’s murder and remanded in custody after a court appearance whilst detectives continue to question two men, aged 18 and 19, over Joshua’s death.

Combating knife crime is a force priority and this year a hard-hitting campaign  Knives End Lives saw officers take metal detecting ‘knife wands’ on patrol in target areas, a retail clampdown on knife sales to youngsters, and tough prison         warnings to offenders.

In both Birmingham and the West Midlands region knife crime has fallen year-on-year since 2006 with incidents involving bladed weapons down more than 60 per cent and the number of fatalities remaining relatively stable. However, Detective Superintendent Mark Payne, force lead for tackling violent crime, appreciates that given the shocking nature of recent stabbings it’s difficult for people to view them against a context of falling crime.

He said: “There is no acceptable level of knife crime; a single stabbing is one too many and our thoughts remain with both Joshua’s and Azim’s friends and family. Knife crime shatters lives and nothing anyone says can offer comfort for the loss of a loved one.

“But I can reassure members of the public we’re working hard to further reduce knife crime: we’re routinely getting into schools to deter youngsters away from knives, catching offenders and pushing for the strongest possible punishments for anyone found carrying a knife.

“Our message is clear: if you are caught carrying a knife in public without good reason you should expect a lengthy prison term. The notion that people carry knives ‘for protection’ is also flawed as many people end up being injured by the very knife they’re carrying.”

Central to West Midlands Police’s campaign to cut crime has been an educational drive in schools warning teenagers about the dangers and consequences of carrying knives.

Alongside Marcia Shakespeare mother of Letisha Shakespeare, who was murdered ten years ago in a gang shooting, officers have reached 45,000 students with a hard-hitting presentation ‘de-glamourising’ gang culture,  illustrating the impact of knife crime and emphasises that anyone connected to a gang can easily find themselves jailed under joint enterprise rules even if they weren’t carrying a weapon.

Det Supt Payne added: “We remind teachers about their responsibilities and powers to search students they suspect could be carrying offensive weapons. We also run regular test purchasing initiatives alongside council colleagues and will clampdown on any retailers found to be selling knives to under-18s. Knife crime runs across issues like domestic violence, mental health, young people, drink and drug issues – that’s why we adopt a partnership approach, working with lots of other agencies, to change behaviours.”