A group from South Yorkshire Police presented an action plan to tackle the knife crime ‘crisis’ in Sheffield at a council meeting yesterday afternoon.
Council Chief Executive John Mothersole was joined by Dept Supt Una Jennings, Director for Children, Young People and Families Carly Speechley and Director of Housing and Neighbourhood Services Janet Sharpe as they gave a 30-minute presentation followed by a question and answer session with the council.
The operation, which was launched two weeks ago, has already seen evidence collated from a variety of other cities such as Glasgow, Manchester and Chicago to see what has worked in tackling knife crime on their streets. It hoped these methods can be applied to Sheffield.
Fortify will also take a more local approach in which ‘like-minded’ people with varied perspectives from across the city will meet and form a core team to develop further solutions.
Dept Supt Una Jennings explained how most cases of crime occur in the most deprived and vulnerable areas of the city. She further explained that offenders often have mental health problems and no role models, which are products of their upbringing.
“Our focus has to be on early intervention, which is why that’s the core principle of the approach.”
What we’re trying to do is get the best people we can in a room, people with the right information, skills and most importantly a huge degree of empathy and humanity, to start to develop interventions with young people”.
She added that this is a public health approach which includes “Understanding what the problem is, the risk and impacts and testing intervention strategies that work”.
This will see a string of local neighbourhood meetings over the course of November and December, where members of the community can share which methods work and which methods don’t.
Jim Steinke, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Community Safety commented on the current lack of youth intervention: “Some traditional youth services and work are not effective. There needs to be a youth service review to look at the changes needed”.
The presentation also contained figures that revealed that violent offences with injury have doubled since 2014, from just over 400 per 100,000 to 800.
There has also been an increase in the possession of weapons since 2013, matching that of the English core cities average.
Sheffield’s rate of violent offences has remained the lowest of the core cities in the last 12 months to June 2018, despite a larger than average increase over five years. It also remains above the national average in this aspect.
The ward of Burngreave will be a key target in the project, having some of the highest knife crime rates in Sheffield, evidenced by the murder of Jarvin Blake when he was stabbed in March this year.