Deadly arsenal of weapons revealed

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KNIVES, firearms, knuckledusters and even socks filled with snooker balls – this is the deadly arsenal of weapons seized from Blackpool streets.

The Gazette can today reveal children as young as 11 have been found arming themselves with potentially fatal weapons in the resort.

It comes in the same week a woman was stabbed in the back in a botched robbery in South Shore and two men were charged with allegedly attacking a hotel night porter with a bat and knife in Blackpool.

Police in Blackpool and Fylde charged 113 people in possession of weapons in the last year from April 2011 up to the same month this year, according to figures obtained by The Gazette through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. Among the weapons confiscated by officers were:

- 70 knives

- Five hammers

-Three guns and one imitation firearm

- A meat cleaver and metal nunchucks

- Machetes, blades and socks filled with pool or snooker balls.

Some were found armed with the weapons on Talbot Road, the Promenade, Central Drive and Ashton Road, in central Blackpool, while others were arrested on Lytham Road, South Shore, Dickson Road, central Blackpool, Park Road and Bloomfield Road. Police today said they regularly used stop and search powers to catch people they suspect of carrying weapons.

Chief Insp Mark Hughes, of Blackpool Police, added: “Of course it is concerning to see people are continuing to carry weapons in Blackpool but equally it is reassuring the number of people caught in possession of a weapon is very low when compared to the fact that more than 13,000 people are arrested across Western Division each year.

“Occasionally people are stopped with weapons having been subjected to Section 60 stop and search powers while at public events such as football matches, demonstrations, or any other situation where there is intelligence to support the use of such powers.

“Appropriate use of these powers has proved very successful in pre-empting serious violence and disorder when policing events in Blackpool and across the county.”

The FOI results showed one 13-year-old boy was found with a knife on Rigby Road, Blackpool, while another 13-year-old had a knife on Park View Road, Lytham.

A 12-year-old boy was discovered in possession of an axe on Marton Drive, Marton, while a 14-year-old had a knuckleduster on Handsworth Road, North Shore.

A knife was also the choice of weapon for a 15-year-old on Borrowdale Road, Mereside. Police bosses say educating young people about the dangers of weapons is one of their priorities.

Chief Insp Hughes added: “The vast majority of weapons we recover continue to be knives and since 2008 Lancashire Constabulary has worked closely with key partners to tackle the issues around knife crime.

“Fortunately here in Blackpool, knife crime is not a big concern and we don’t have the same issues as some of the bigger metropolitan cities in the country.

“A lot of our work continues to be around education and prevention and we have delivered knife crime presentations to thousands of school pupils in the county and regularly carry out operations using knife arches and wands aimed at preventing people from carrying weapons.

“These have been very successful.

“The force will continue to work to reduce the number of incidents in Lancashire and educate adults and youngsters about the dangers and consequences of carrying knives and to make the issue of knife carriage socially unacceptable.”

Police are still searching for a man who callously stabbed a woman in the back after she refused to hand over cash on Tyldesley Road, South Shore, last Saturday.

One officer called it a “minor miracle” the 21-year-old was not seriously injured in the incident.

And last month, Jacob Williamson was jailed for eight years after carrying out two muggings while armed with a fake handgun and a large hunting knife.

The 20-year-old, of Singleton Avenue, St Annes, robbed four teenage boys while they were out socialising at Ashton Gardens in St Annes in February this year.

And Jordan Oxer, who knifed a man to the abdomen, chest, leg and arm during an incident on Dickson Road, North Shore, was jailed for five years and seven months last month.

The 22-year-old had violently stabbed his victim six times in a vicious attack outside a flat in September last year.

The judge in that case said: “It is fortuitous that far more serious harm was not caused and possibly even death.”