Chronicle and Echo Article Sunday 24th November 2019 by Alastair Ulke
Earlier this month, a court case of the brutal murder of Reece Ottaway saw five young men go to jail for a combined sentence of over 100 years.
The 23-year-old was stabbed to death in a 'berserk' attack the gang using machetes and knives in a flat in Northampton.
But as part of the sentencing, a report prepared by Northamptonshire Police was read out to show the judge how the savage murder was a chilling example of the scale of knife crime in the county.
The report, prepared by Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Behan, spells out how knife crime has grown to an epidemic in Northamptonshire and is now being tackled as one of the force's top priorities.
The chilling statistics read out in crown court included:
They include the killing of 17-year-old Louis-Ryan Menezes, 23-year-old Reece Ottaway and 34-year-old Daniel Fitzjohn.The report by DCS Mark Behan reads: "All of [these murders] caused catastrophic and irreparable damage to the lives of those affected, including the families of the victims and perpetrators alike.
"These statistics confirm the scale of the developing culture of carrying and utilising knives as part of criminality. The misery and pain that such offences bring is substantial and long-lasting."
The surge in knife crime in recent years has been linked to the growth of County Lines drug crime.
Northamptonshire Police have launched several campaigns since 2018 to remedy the pandemic. They include a crackdown on drug dealers, knife awareness talks in secondary schools, knife amnesties and the launch of CIRV - the Community Initiative to Reduce Violence, which hopes to rehabilitate gang members.
DCS Behan's report reads: "Our aim is to prevent people carrying knives setting out clearly the impact of carrying one. However, we also make clear the implications of being found in possession of or using a knife to commit an offence will result in serious consequences through the criminal justice system.
"Northamptonshire Police identifies knife crime as a key risk in the county. The force and our partners are tackling an exponential increase in knife-related violence and recorded offences."
- There were 888 knife-related offences recorded in Northamptonshire between July 2018 and 2019.
- In the last 12 months, Northamptonshire Police have had 719 knife-related assaults reported and recorded 464 knife-related robberies.
- In 2018, Northamptonshire Police convicted 323 people for carrying a knife. This amounts to an increase of 78 per cent over a five-year period - the second-highest increase in the UK.
It comes in the wake of seven murder investigations that were launched in the county since March 2018 that involved knives.