A KNIFE amnesty was officially launched across West Lancashire this week, with police appealing to residents to think about the consequences of carrying a knife.
There will be special amnesty bins at 10 designated police stations county-wide, including Skelmersdale, and anyone will be able to anonymously dispose of a weapon, whether it belongs to them, a friend or a relative until September 29.
Detective Inspector Warren Atkinson said: “We have high hopes for the arms amnesty, we are determined to get knives off West Lancashire’s streets.”
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Bates said: “Carrying a knife in public will not be tolerated by Lancashire Constabulary, and the consequences of doing so are potentially devastating.
“We do not have a massive problem with knife crime in Lancashire, but a knife is a lethal weapon and even one on Lancashire’s streets is one too many. This amnesty has been launched to proactively remove those weapons from our communities, and help to keep everyone safe.
“If anyone is in possession of a knife and is unsure what to do about it, I would urge them to take this opportunity to dispose of it anonymously and safely.
“In particular, I want to appeal to youngsters who may be tempted to carry a knife because they believe it offers them protection – don’t. Not only is being in possession of a knife in a public place a criminal offence, but nationally seven out of 10 knife injuries among young people are caused as a result of the victim being stabbed with their own weapon.
“Please use the next five weeks to hand over your weapons without fear of prosecution, and don’t run the risk of ending up with a criminal record, a life-changing or potentially fatal injury.”
Between April 1, 2010 and March 31, 2014 there were 3712 offences involving knives across Lancashire, including 612 offences of possessing an article with a blade or point, 459 knife-related public order offences and 321 woundings.
And while knife crime is falling in Lancashire – down to 845 recorded offences county-wide in 2013 from 1004 in 2011 - officers are keen to stress no one should be armed with a knife on Lancashire’s streets, and the consequences of carrying one could be devastating.
The maximum penalty for an adult found in possession of a knife is four years in prison and a fine of £5000.
Any weapons which are too large for the amnesty bins can be handed in at the front counters at the designated police stations, and residents are asked to ensure the knives are wrapped in newspaper.
The 10 amnesty bins will be accessible 24-hours a day and have been funded by Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Clive Grunshaw, using money seized from criminals through the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).
The Commissioner said: “I am fully supportive of Lancashire Constabulary’s bid to remove knives from our streets.
“No-one should live in fear of knives being used in their community, and I hope anyone in possession of an offensive weapon will use this opportunity to protect both themselves and those around them by handing it in.
“I am committed to tackling violent crime and ensuring that – above all else – residents feel safe and secure. This amnesty is an important step toward achieving that and I would urge residents to make the right decision and hand over any illegal knives they are in possession of.”
Amnesty bins will be available at the following designated police stations:
• Greenbank (Blackburn)
Young people are being encouraged to log onto the Trust Ed website – www.trusted2know.co.uk – to find out more about knife crime and the dangers of carrying a knife on Lancashire’s streets.