Tunbridge Wells ‘not immune’ as knife crime doubles in the borough

The number of knife related offences in the borough has more than doubled in 12 months, with 30 incidents in Tunbridge Wells during the year of 2017-2018.

During the same period in 2016-2017, only 14 knife crimes were recorded.

The Community Safety Manager for the Borough Council, Terry Hughes, confirmed the latest statistics and admitted the town is ‘not immune’ to knife related crime, but warned the figures may not necessarily relate to ‘violence’.

“It is hard to pin down what the actual data means, as it may well be somebody arrested for another offence and found in possession of a knife.”

He said the council will be conducting an operation with several partners, including Kent Police, during the spring to understand the issues that affect the borough.

“It partly includes education, but also we want to get a clearer picture of what is going on.

“We do not have the problems of Birmingham or London, but the potential is there, so we need to understand how it is related to domestic violence or to drug use.

“We have our own issues with domestic violence and we have our own cohort of class-A drug users, so we are not immune.”

Nationally, the figures make for grim reading, with knife crime having been on the rise since 2014, reaching a peak in September 2018, according to the last report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

In England and Wales, the number of offences involving knives or sharp instruments went up by 8 per cent to 39,818 compared with 36,776 offences recorded the previous year.

London has the largest proportion of knife crime, with 35 per cent of all knife offences recorded in the capital.

However, incidents involving knives, blades, or other sharp instruments, have doubled in Kent over the last eight years.

According to the ONS statistics, there were 873 recorded incidents in the county for the year ending September 2018—up 22 per cent on the 2016/2017 figures.

While the level of knife violence in the area is tiny compared to cities such as London or Birmingham, there have been a number of incidents recently. .

Earlier this month, a thief stole a bottle of vodka from Sainsbury’s Local in St Johns Road and, after grappling with a member of staff, pulled what police believe was a knife on a member of the public who challenged the man.

While officers are still appealing for witnesses following a stabbing in Vale Road, Tonbridge, in February that left a 19-year-old badly hurt.

Deputy Chief Constable Tony Blaker from Kent Police said: “In Kent we have seen an increase in the number of offences involving a knife or sharp instrument.

“Officers have and continue to take a proactive approach in targeting, arresting and prosecuting people who carry knives or sharp instruments which has played a part in contributing to this increase.

“As a force we regularly take part in the national Operation Sceptre – a campaign to reduce knives on the streets – which has been successful in identifying and arresting those who carry weapons.

“We have worked hard on education and intervention in the last year with officers, Police Community Support Officers and volunteer police cadets regularly visiting schools, colleges and youth clubs to encourage young people to make better life choices.”

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