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Knife message not getting through’—police chief

PUBLISHED: 15:58 04 July 2008 | UPDATED: 13:25 05 October 2010

POLICE are setting up a 75-strong task force to stop and search youths carrying knives in London after a senior officer warned the message about carrying deadly weapons was “not getting through.” The move revealed today (Friday) is part of the drive against known gang members

Mike Brooke

POLICE are setting up a 75-strong task force to stop and search youths carrying knives in London after a senior officer warned the message about carrying deadly weapons was “not getting through.”

The move revealed today (Friday) is part of the drive against known gang members.

The new task force is to be used to back up more search operations and increase the Met’s pro-active capability.’

Statistics earlier this week showed the progress being made by the Blunt 2’ operation, which was making an impact on stopping youngsters carrying knives, Deputy Commissioner Paul Stephenson told today’s meeting of the Metropolitan Police Authority’s Co-ordination & Policing committee (July 4).

Some 27,000 people have been searched, leading to 1,200 arrests and 500 knives seized.

“But sadly, two more young people have been stabbed to death in recent days,” said Deputy Commissioner Stephenson.

“Clearly the message is not getting through.

“So we are increasing the police strengths in those boroughs most affected, establishing a dedicated 75-strong Blunt 2 taskforce, to build on the co-ordinated activity already being carried out by all 32 London police borough commands.

“This is being drawn from resources across the Met to increase the drive against known gang members and their associates and increase our pro-active capability in supporting our search operations.”

Fewer people are being cautioned as police are now charging 95 per cent of those arrested where there is sufficient evidence, he revealed.

Senior officers across the capital are now looking at all current police operations to see whether more constables can be diverted to support the drive against carrying knives in areas where the problem is causing most concern.

“Tackling knife crime is the number one priority for the Met at this time,” the Deputy Commissioner added.

“We recognise that our actions impact on all of London’s young people, the vast majority of whom do not carry knives or have any involvement in gangs.

“But we believe we have their support in tackling the scourge of knife crime—as demonstrated by the young people of Islington on Tuesday.

“Our success will be seeing an end to these tragic deaths.

“Everyone is being affected by what is going on and we all have to work together to get the message across that carrying knives has got to stop.”

He pointed out the support from the public, community leaders and local authorities across London for the tactic of using Section 60 powers which have significantly increased the number of youngsters being stopped and searched.

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