OFFICERS determined to fight the increasing problem of knife crime have launched a new campaign to keep our streets safe.
Police vans across East Lancashire will now carry handheld metal detectors, also known as knife wands, to help officers take more dangerous weapons and knives off the streets.
Alongside the knife wands, the force is also looking to permanently place knife bins – where people can anonymously dispose of bladed weapons – in key locations in each of East Lancashire’s six boroughs by December.
All town and borough councils have been approached and it is hoped they will agree to the initiative.
Officers have also acquired portable knife arches which they can transport to big events, hoping to discourage people from carrying weapons.
The drive has been possible thanks to government funding which was allocated to help Lancashire fight knife crime back in July.
Sergeant Steve Ibbotson said: “One knife off the streets is potentially one life saved. The whole approach we are taking is about being proactive rather than having to be reactive.
“We are not saying that there is a big problem with knife crime in East Lancashire, these are preventative measures. But we are trying to ensure that the county doesn’t become as bad as London or Manchester.
“Education is key in stopping this problem. The more we can get into schools to engage with younger generations about the dangers of knife crime, the more success we will have in fighting the issue.
“Our goal with the knife wands, implementation of the bins and other initiatives is to make the streets of Lancashire a safer place.”
The 26 hand-held metal detectors have been allocated to officers across Blackburn and Accrington, Rossendale, Pendle and the Ribble Valley.
It’s the first time neighbourhood and response officers have been equipped with the metal detecting devices.
Sgt Ibbotson said: “The wands are a fantastic addition to the constabulary’s toolkit to tackle knife crime. We are seeing a steady increase in the amount of assaults involving knives on a national level, so these wands will give members of the public, as well as officers, added security, with the aim of taking more knives and other dangerous weapons off the streets.
“The wands are an effective tool for use alongside stop and search and potentially less intrusive for those subject to searches.
“People subject to a stop and search by officers will be searched with the wand followed by a traditional search to detect any possible weapons.”