Knife Crime - Gateshead Council.doc by shensengvf


									                                                       REPORT TO CABINET
                                                       20 March 2007

TITLE OF REPORT:         Knife Crime in Gateshead

REPORT OF:               Steve Bramwell, Group Director, Community Based

     Purpose of the Report

1.   The purpose of this report is to provide Cabinet with feedback from a Sustainable
     Communities Advisory Group about knife crime in Gateshead and of interventions
     that are currently taking place to ensure resident and employee safety.


2.   Knife crime is an emotive issue and its profile has been raised nationally via
     extensive news coverage of knife related incidents and the national knife amnesty in
     the summer of 2006. Media campaigns have developed the phrase ‘knife culture’.

3.   Following an assault involving a knife on a council employee whilst at work in
     Watergate Park, Council on 8 June 2006 carried a motion requesting that an
     Advisory Group be set up to:
     a) consider the problems of young people carrying knives in public places and the
         number of incidents involving knife crime and
     b) report to Cabinet on appropriate measures to address these problems

4.   A Sustainable Communities People Advisory Group meeting was held on 11 July
     2006 to consider these issues. Minutes of this meeting are attached at Appendix 2.

5.   This report provides Cabinet with details of:
                Overall crime figures in Gateshead
                Knife crime in Gateshead
                Young Peoples views on knives
                Current interventions
                Response to the incident in Watergate Park
                Future powers


6.   That Cabinet is asked to endorse the range of partnership interventions that are
     currently taking place to tackle knife crime.


7.   It is recommended that Cabinet endorse the partnership interventions that are
     taking place to tackle knife crime as set out in appendix 1.

                                          1 of 7
     For the following reason:

     To support measures being taken to tackle knife crime in Gateshead.

CONTACT: Kate Israel extension 2353                          PLAN REF: 2896

                                        2 of 7
                                                                             APPENDIX 1

     Policy Context

1.   The proposals support the Council’s “Towards 2010” document and, in particular,
     the outcomes relating to community safety “Local people living in a safe, fear-free
     and tolerant community”. They also relate to the Gateshead Community Safety and
     Drugs Strategy for 2005-2008 and in particular the priority areas relating to reducing
     core crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and increasing public reassurance.


     Overall Crime Levels in Gateshead

2.   Gateshead Community Safety Partnership is, overall, performing extremely well.
     Level of crimes are still reducing within the borough, with significant
     reductions in vehicle crime and burglaries. The national PSA target set for the
     Gateshead Community Safety Partnership is to reduce recorded crime by 20.1%
     by 2008. The Partnership is well on schedule to achieved this and as at
     December 2006 a 27% reduction in overall crime had been recorded.

3.   Violent Crime in Gateshead is however on the increase. As at December 2006
     there had been an increase of 8.5% from the previous year. This situation is not
     unique to Gateshead and has proven to be a national issue. In fact, Gateshead is
     still performing well compared to most other similar area commands (out of 15
     area commands Gateshead is positioned third best with regards to violent crime).
     The Community Safety Partnership have taken this rise in violent crime extremely
     seriously. A detailed problem profile has been created by Northumbria Police to
     identify the issues and partners are working closely together to address the

     Knife Crime in Gateshead

4.   Knives can be used in a variety of different criminal scenarios ranging from criminal
     damage to murder. It is illegal to carry a knife and anyone found with one could face
     up to four years in prison.

5.   With the exception of homicides, the recorded crime statistics do not separately
     identify all crimes involving knives and sharp instruments. In order to determine
     actual numbers of incidents involving knives, crime analysts must manually check
     every incident report.

6.   Knife related crimes have reduced in the Northumbria police area.
         1st Jan 2000 – 31st Dec 2000 895 knife related incidents
         1st Jan 2005 – 31st Dec 2005 884 knife related incidents

     This represents a 1.2% decrease in knife related incidents between 2000 and 2005.

7.   During the year April 2005 - March 2006 there were 204 incidents in
     Gateshead involving bladed weapons. Bladed weapons can include "knife", "razor",
     "axe", "sword", "sharp instrument", "pointed", "saw" or "blade". However, to put

                                          3 of 7
      this into perspective, during that same period there were 17,412 crimes
      committed in Gateshead. Bladed weapons were therefore used in 1.17% of
      crimes committed.

8.    Although any incident involving a knife is a concern, the low level of incidents
      involving knives, in addition to the experience of front line staff, leads members of
      the Community Safety Partnership to feel that there is not a significant problem in
      Gateshead with regards to knives and knife crime:

           The Gateshead Youth Offending Team report that between July 2005 – June
            2006 there were:
               -22 incidents of young people in possession of an offensive weapon
               without lawful authorisation or excuse
               -12 incidents of young people who have an article with blade or point in a
                public place

           The Director of Learning and Schools reports that knife incidents in schools
            are rare and following a knife related incident schools work closely with
            Northumbria Police

           Feedback from Gateshead Area Command suggests that knife crime is not a
            significant problem

      Young People’s views

9.    The Sustainable Communities People Advisory Group requested that young people
      should be consulted on the issue of knife crime to provide a more holistic analysis
      of the issue. This was carried out with members of the Birtley Boxing club.
      Feedback from the young people who attended the club was that knife crime was
      not a problem in their area:

         No-one has any experience of knives personally or amongst their friends
         They are aware of the issue but wouldn’t say that it happens in Gateshead as far
          as they know
         They know there is an issue because they hear about it on the news, radio, tv
          and in newspapers – they believe that the media “glamorises” it
         They have not really noticed the issue in the North East – believe it’s more a
          London/South of England problem
         They know of peers from years ago that carried knives but it was more peer
          pressure than anything else, just to “look good”
         “When you’re out in town it’s on your mind but I’ve never seen anyone with a
          knife or pull a knife”

      Current Partnership Interventions

10.   Although the evidence suggests that knife crime is not a significant issue in
      Gateshead, partner agencies within the Community Safety Partnership and
      Gateshead Council are committed to addressing the issue.

11.   Gateshead was one of 27 Northumbria Police Area Commands that took part in the
      National knife amnesty. 235 knives were handed in during the knife amnesty at

                                            4 of 7
      Gateshead – 4 bins were located at Gateshead, Whickham, Metro Centre and the
      Youth Offending Team office.

12.   The Gateshead Housing Company lettings policy dictates that those persons with
      violent convictions could be suspended from the waiting list and unable to gain a

13.   The Joint Area Review of services for children and young people highlighted that
      the combined work of all local services in keeping children and young people
      safe is good. The Review stated that most children and young people are provided
      with safe environments through the effective application of risk assessments and
      health and safety procedures in settings such as residential children’s homes,
      activity centres and youth clubs. The Review also highlighted that work to reduce
      anti-social behaviour is good and youth offending rates in Gateshead are reducing.

14.   Gateshead Council has a package of policies that protect employees:

          Corporate health and safety policy
          Corporate violence at work policy
          Lone working policy and procedures (final policy is awaiting approval
           following discussions with the unions)
          Risk assessments within individual sections
          Incident logs – In the last 12 months there have been 2 incidents of knife
           related crime logged
          Training courses: Dealing with difficult situations, personal safety and crime
           prevention, dealing with problem behaviour, dealing with aggression
          Reactive monitoring guidelines
          Alarm buttons within each of the reception areas of the civic centre
          Procedures for visiting dignitaries who may require a higher level of security

      Those employees who are deemed to be more at risk have an enhanced package
      of policies and support. Neighbourhood Wardens for example have a package of
      control measures including lone working policies, protective clothing and risk

15.   Concerns raised by members of the Sustainable Communities People Advisory
      Group with regards to different types of knives and bladed weapons have been
      passed on to Northumbria Police.

16.   The Sustainable Communities People Advisory group also recommended that
      young people should be encouraged to join sporting clubs. The Gateshead Children
      and Young Peoples Plan, which is in the final stages of development, incorporates
      a number of actions that will encourage young people to become engaged in
      activities. These include:

          To ensure that every child and young person has the opportunity to enjoy
           high quality cultural and recreational activity.
          Explore innovative ways of providing accessible information on cultural,
           leisure youth and community centre opportunities including responding to the
           2006 Government requirement of Promoting Positive Activities to 13 to 19
           year olds.

                                          5 of 7
          Explore opportunities to provide places where young people can meet
           friends in a safe ‘young people only’ environment and to provide at least 2
           new young people only environments per year in community centres.
          Improve accessible parks, open space and play provision.

      Response to the incident in Watergate Park

17.   Following the assault on a council employee in Watergate Park in June 2006 a
      detailed report was produced by Health and Safety, which assessed the incident
      and provided a list of recommendations:

            Risk assessments should be revised to reflect the higher risks when working
             alone in remote areas.

            Consideration should be given to work being carried out in pairs if risk
             assessments identify problem high-risk areas.

            Formal arrangements should be made to ensure operatives working alone in
             remote areas have a means of communication for use in emergency and / or
             if practical, regular supervisor checks should be made.

            Appropriate conflict resolution training should be provided for workers who
             could be expected to work alone in remote areas.

18.   These recommendations have been incorporated within the new lone working policy
      and procedures, which is currently being developed, and will be adopted across
      Gateshead Council.

19.   Local Environmental Services responded immediately to the incident. Selected
      supervisors were provided with mobile phones and risk assessments were revised
      for Ground Care staff. There has been a subsequent restructure within Local
      Environmental Services with the merger of Ground Care and Street Services to
      create Neighbourhood Services. This has been viewed as an excellent opportunity
      to strengthen risk assessments and to provide risk training for managers.

      Future Powers

20.   The Violent Crime Reduction Bill Act 2006 gives police and communities stronger
      powers to tackle violent crimes involving alcohol, knives and imitation guns.

      Measures contained within the Act include:
         the maximum penalty for possession of a knife will increase from two to four
         the age at which a person can be sold a knife will increase from 16 to 18
         powers will be provided for staff in schools to search pupils for knives and
           offensive weapons


21.   In the preparation of this report a number of organisations and individuals have
      been consulted:

                                           6 of 7
       Sustainable Communities People Advisory Group
       Members of the Gateshead Community Safety Partnership, including
        Northumbria Police and Gateshead Council (Health and Safety, Local
        Environmental Services, Children and Young People)
       Young People from Birtley boxing club
       The Cabinet Member for Community Safety.

      Alternative Options

22.   There are no alternative options

      Implications of Recommended Option

23.   Financial Implications – The Strategic Director, Finance and ICT confirms there
      are no financial implications arising directly from this report.

24.   Risk Management Implication – The report outlines that the current risk
      management arrangements are sufficient.

25.   Human Resources Implications – The Council’s duty of care for the health &
      safety of its employees is covered by the risk management arrangements above.

26.   Equality and Diversity Implications – none arising from this report.

27.   Crime and Disorder Implications – The report highlights a number of multi-
      agency interventions that are in place in Gateshead to tackle the issue of knife

28.   Sustainability Implications – none arising from this report.

29.   Human Rights Implications – none arising from this report.

30.   Ward Implications – The interventions apply to all wards in Gateshead.

      Background Information

      The following background papers have been used in preparing this report:

         Crime and Disorder Act 1998
         Police and Justice Act 2006
         Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006
         Gateshead Community Safety and Drugs Misuse Strategy 2005-08

                                           7 of 7

To top