Why do so many people carry knives in Blackpool?

Shock rise in knife crime in Blackpool
Shock rise in knife crime in Blackpool
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Knife crime continues to rise in Blackpool as new figures reveal the scale of the challenge facing police.

A woman whose brother was stabbed to death in the resort called for tougher sentences in a bid to tackle the growing problem of blades on the streets.

It comes as analysis by the BBC revealed Blackpool is among the top 25 areas in the country for knife crime.

Police say the problem – which is being seen right across the country – is a priority, while work is taking place to deter young people from carrying knives.

Beverley Keenan, of Ribble Road, lost her brother Wayne in June 2000 when he was stabbed to death in his Chapel Street flat by his friend Mark Oldfield, of Halton Moor, Leeds.

Oldfield was sentenced to seven years in prison for manslaughter, but was released in 2005.

Beverley, 54, said: “I said it 20 years ago that it was going to get worse, and it is. I wrote to every MP in Parliament at the time and told them that sentences needed to be stronger, but nothing changed.

“People get tougher sentences for dealing drugs and robbing banks than they do for taking lives.”

According to figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act, there were 14.3 offences involving a knife or sharp object for every 100,000 people in Blackpool last year.

In the North West, only Liverpool and Manchester had higher knife crime rates.

This compares to 2.4 serious knife crimes per 10,000 people in Wyre and 2.7 in Fylde.

The figures also revealed offences had gone up 40 per cent between 2016 and 2018.

Ms Keenan added: “There are families devastated. I have got young nephews and I’m scared to death every time they go out that something will happen to them.

“I was shocked in 2000 when my brother was murdered, because you never think it’s going to happen to your family, and a seven year sentence just doesn’t cover the loss of a human life.

“It’s a disgrace and the system is all wrong. There’s no deterrent.

“If somebody knew they were going to get five years for carrying a knife, no matter what their excuse was, they would think twice about carrying them in the first place.

“It does surprise me that knife crime is so high in Blackpool, just because it’s a small town. We’re not a big city. You’d expect it in Manchester or Leeds, but not a little seaside town like Blackpool. It’s scary.”

A Lancashire Police spokesman said: “We are continuing to raise awareness of the dangers of carrying a knife among children and young people, regularly visiting schools to talk to students about the dangers of carrying a knife.

“We have a zero-tolerance policy towards knife possession, and anyone who is found to be in possession of a knife could face up to five years in prison.

“Selling a knife to or buying a knife for anyone under the age of 18 is a criminal offence and we work closely with our partners at trading standards to educate retailers.

“Nationally, young people who end up in hospital with a knife injury have usually been stabbed with their own knife – carrying a knife puts you at risk. You don’t have to use the knife to get a criminal record – just being in possession of a blade in public is illegal.

“We regularly take part in weeks of action including national knife surrenders but this is not just a police issue and we continue to work closely with partners to educate people on the dangers of carrying a knife as it could have tragic consequences.”

Figures obtained by the BBC revealed that, across England and Wales, almost half of all suspects in serious knife crime offences last year were aged 24 and under. People aged 18 to 34 were the most likely to be victims of knife offences, while suspects were mostly the same age or younger.

More than 3,000 suspects last year were under 18.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for knife crime, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Duncan Ball, said recently: “Bringing violence down is a police priority.

“Preventing young people from carrying knives is not something police forces can do alone.

“Early intervention to steer young people away from violence and action to tackle the root causes are crucial.”