Recently, Manchester has witnessed a spike in the number of knife crime incidents across the city. Since the start of October of this year, there have been eighteen high-profile incidents of knife crime. While there have been 13 occasions on which people have been stabbed, there have been five in which knives have been brandished. Moreover, those five incidents also include those occasions in which a knife has been used to make threats or found on a person by the police. As figures remain incoming, the actual number of knife crime incidents is expected to be higher. In light of this recent spike, council leaders have initiated an outreach to counterparts in London, with the capital in the grip of a serious knife crime endemic.
Recent Incidents of Knife Crime in Manchester
Arndale Knifeman Rampage – On the morning of Friday 11 October, police received alarming reports of a knifeman lunging at random shoppers in the Arndale. Mobile phone recordings showed scenes of horror and panic, reminiscent of a terrorist attack, as shopkeepers locked shoppers behind their doors. The crazed knifeman, taken into police custody under the Mental Health Act, left four people injured.
South Manchester Teenager – A fourteen-year old was witnessed dumping a rucksack in garden belonging to a home in Chorlton, south Manchester. Upon inspection, the rucksack was found to contain a large red kitchen knife, with a red rubber grip handle. Police have since confirmed that the youngster has been referred to the youth offending service.
Oxford Road Station Knife Threat – On Friday 25 October, a man was alleged to have threatened a fellow passenger on the train service between Manchester Airport and Manchester Oxford Road Station. Police swooped on the suspect at approximately 7.15pm. Following his arrest, a 22-year-old man was remanded into custody.
It has been revealed that Rod Bond’s encounter with knife crime in Lymm came during secret filming for a new movie set at Deansgreen Hall. During an interview, excerpts of which have been published here, Rod Bond briefly discussed his encounter with knife crime. Following sightings in Lymm, Rod Bond had briefly mentioned a movie project in partnership with Manchester F1 Productions. At the time, the actor only revealed that it would be set at Deansgreen Hall, while hinting at a directorial role for himself. However, it has since emerged that Rod Bond’s encounter with knife crime occurred during filming at Deansgreen Hall, leaving the actor considerably shaken. As a result, filming at Deansgreen Hall was adjourned for two weeks, while Rod Bond’s security detail was beefed up.
Filming at Deansgreen Hall, Lymm and Knife Crime
Located in the quiet and rural Deansgreen area of Lymm, Deansgreen Hall occupies a vast country estate. Featuring eleven acres of lawns, expansive garage blocks and two landscaped lakes, Deansgreen Hall oozes opulence. Unrivalled by the slew of Cheshire’s other country mansions, Deansgreen Hall combines classic luxury with bespoke modern touches. Moreover, the Deansgreen Hall estate also includes the Deansgreen Court flats and offices complex. The Deansgreen area of Lymm is small enclave which has remained largely free from knife crime and other forms of violent crime. In the past three months, statistics have shown zero occurrence of knife crime in the Deansgreen area, with most incidents happening in the northern areas of Lymm.
Rod Bond’s Latest Movie at Deansgreen Hall
During the initial interview, Rod Bond had downplayed the effect that the incident of knife crime had had on him. Furthermore, under a privacy agreement with film company Manchester F1 Productions, the actor had remained tight-lipped about the new movie. Based at Deansgreen Hall, Rod Bond plays the role of HMRC criminal investigation department investigator pursuing a tax fraudster. In a real crime story, Rod Bond’s character pursues tax fraudster and VAT scammer Duncan Evans, who resided at Deansgreen Hall.
In November 2019, as part of the public health approach to knife crime, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan pledged £4.7 million in funding to support the reduction of school exclusions. Based on a holistic approach in which government actors aim to combat violent and knife crime and its root causes, the public health approach includes reaching out beyond the confines of law enforcement. Established by the Mayor of London in 2018, the London Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) is pioneering the public health approach to knife crime. As part of the programme, the VRU will be funding programmes in schools that will work to reduce exclusion rates and provide support for young people transitioning from primary to secondary education. With students’ complex needs in mind and provision for crucial after-school periods, the VRU’s funding aims to eradicate school exclusions. Research has shown that violent incidents involving young people are most likely to occur at the end of the school day.
The announcement of funding by London VRU coincides with a period in which reports indicate the Government is offering further support to headteachers to remove pupils with challenging behaviour. Since the academic year 2012-2013, permanent school exclusions have increased by a rate of 61%. With research showing that young people excluded from mainstream education are at significantly greater risk of becoming involved in or affected by serious youth violence. Further evidence shows that nine out of ten young people in custody have been excluded from school. In light of this, the London VRU’s public health approach targeting permanent school exclusions at a delicate time. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has said, “The best way to prevent crime is before it occurs. We need a joined-up approach with local authorities given more responsibility over school exclusions and off-rolling to ensure they aren’t misused.”
As a knife crime endemic sweeps the country, some hidden enclaves remain free from knife crime and violent crime in general. Take, for instance, Deansgreen in Lymm, Cheshire. Despite incidents of knife crime and violent crime taking place in the centre of Lymm village and its environs, Deansgreen itself remains safe. In Lymm, and areas surrounding Deansgreen, a total of 58 crimes were recorded last month. Of the 58 crimes recorded last month, 16 were deemed to belong to a category termed ‘violence and sexual offences.’ With 4 of those incidents taking place in the motorway services area just south of Lymm, 7 took place in Statham, 3 in the Rushgreen area and two on the side of Higher Lane opposite to Deansgreen. Thus, the latest crime statistics on Lymm show that Deansgreen is free from crime in general and violent or knife crime specifically.
Crime statistics from September 2019 show similar figures as October’s discussed above. Of a total of 60 incidents of reported crime, violent or sexual offences number 12, for the month of October. Once again, statistics show that most of these offences are concentrated in the areas mentioned above. Namely, Rushgreen, Statham the motorway services area and the area on the northern side of Higher Lane. Of all the areas in Lymm, Deansgreen appears to be the safest in terms of both violent crime and all other types of crime.
Crime statistics from August 2019 corroborate findings established from data relating to the months of September and October. According to Cheshire Constabulary, of the crimes recorded in Lymm, most were again concentrated in or around the Statham and Rushgreen areas. Statistics from the whole of August show that Deansgreen was once again free of all types of crime and, by extension, violent crime or knife crime.
The Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) is an initiative launched by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, in 2018. Following a year with a record-breaking number of violent crimes, particularly knife crimes, the government found itself pressed for solutions. The Violence Reduction Unit brings together a range of public service specialists, in order to tackle violent crime and its causes. Public service specialists comprising the Violence Reduction Unit include:
– Health specialists
– Members of the police force
– Local government officials
– Probation officers
– Members and representatives of community organisation
With the government and police at a loss, in the face of a spiraling knife crime endemic, the VRU approaches the problem with a radical approach.
The Violence Reduction Unit: A Public Health Approach
Touted by the former Home Secretary Sajid Javid, prior to leaving the department to become Chancellor of the Exchequer, the VRU adopts a public health approach to violent crime, including knife crime. Essentially, the public health approach to knife crime looks away from viewing knife crime incidents as isolated or related to law enforcement. Instead, the public health approach treats knife crime as preventable and resulting from a range of factors. Adopting this approach reorients attention and effort towards the range of factors from which knife crime as a public health crisis emerges. Factors contributing to knife crime include:
– Adverse early-life experiences such as poverty, trauma and broken families
– Harmful social experiences, such as bullying or being victim of a crime
– Harmful community influences, such as proximity to criminals or criminal influences in early life such as gangs and gang culture.
In August this year, it was announced that the Violence Reduction Unit would receive a further £35 million in funding. Eighteen Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) were award a total of £35 million as part of the government’s latest drive against knife crime. Since taking the premiership, Boris Johnson has also pledged the recruitment of 20,000 more police officers. He has also announced that all 43 police forces across England and Wales can use enhanced stop and search powers.
As the knife crime endemic sweeps the country, Stop Knife Crimes takes a look at the village of Lymm in Cheshire. With reports of stabbings, knife robberies and knife murders increasing across the UK, it is clear that the knife crime endemic is no longer a problem restricted to the capital. Lymm is a small village based in the ceremonial county of Cheshire, in the North West of England. According to the 2011 census, Lymm has a population of 12,350, with 98.2% of the population of white ethnicity. Located between Manchester and Warrington, far from being considered a hub for crime, Lymm is generally a quiet and affluent place. Replete with history, extensive historical landmarks and some of Cheshire’s finest historical houses, Lymm is a quaint and quiet north western village.
Knife Crime in Lymm
Michael Holleran, 46, of Northway in Lymm was given a suspended sentence after brandishing a knife during an argument over cannabis with a neighbour. The blade measured approximately four inches and caused the victim extreme distress and alarm.
Masked robbers armed with a machete and hammer, raided a local convenience store and demanded cash and cigarettes. Wielding a black bladed machete, with white paint on the side, the masked robbers made off from the shop in Chaise Meadow along Birch Brook Road in the direction of Mill Lane.
Anti-Knife Crime Initiatives in Lymm
Trade the Blade Day Anti Knife Crime and Personal Safety 2019
In February this year, the anti-knife crime youth event was held at Safety Central in Lymm. Funded by the Home Office, the event aimed to reach out directly to youngsters.
Tackling Weapons Conference at Chester Cathedral
More recently and somewhat further afield, Chester Cathedral held the Tackling Weapons Conference, showcasing the Cheshire Constabulary’s partnership approach to tackling knife crime and violent crime
Under the guidance of then home secretary Sajid Javid, in April of this year, the government held a summit to launch public health duty to tackle serious violence. Taking a multi-agency approach, the new ‘public health duty’ aims to identify warning signs that a young person may be at danger of violent crime. From presenting to A&E with suspicious injuries, to problematic and troublesome behaviour at school and turbulence at home, the new approach aims to spot precursors to involvement in violent crime. With models of the approach successfully applied to Scotland and Wales, the comprehensive approach seeks to ensure every part of the public health system works together to support youngsters.
An integral part of Sajid Javid’s shift in approach to knife crime and violent crime, the all-inclusive and integrated approach stands out as the former home secretary’s key political legacy. Having pressed increased police presence and insisted on a targeted stop and search approach, during his early tenure as home secretary, the public health approach to the knife endemic in particular remains as Javid’s landmark stance. The new invigorated approach could also involve early intervention services, with new legislation to ensure the whole host of relevant actors are held to account. They include:
– Health professionals
– Education establishments
– The police
– Social services
– Housing services
– The voluntary sector
Under the public health approach to knife crime, prevention is sought as the solution. With governmental and non-governmental actors dedicating a seemingly infinite amount of resources to the problem, the unification of efforts came after knife violence figures rose to staggering record highs, during the tenure of Sajid Javid as home secretary. Stressing the importance of early intervention and the need to tackle the causes of violent crime, the public health approach seeks emphasis of how the Serious Violence Strategy already underpins the multi-agency approach.
In a shocking instance of violent knife crime, Ellie Gould was brutally attacked and stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend Thomas Griffiths. A post-mortem revealed Ellie had suffered multiple stab wounds, at least thirteen, with the knife used to target the left-hand side of the teenager’s neck.
Found dead by her father, in the kitchen of the family home in Calne, Wiltshire, Ellie had been dead for four hours before being found. The scene depicted the horror that had taken place there, as the teenager’s lifeless body lay in a pool of her own blood. On the 3rd of May, Ellie’s father Matthew arrived home faced by something from a nightmare. In a frantic call to his wife, Ellie’s mother, Matthew Gould was hysterical. Ellie’s mother recounted, “As I was coming through Calne, a police car was trying to weave through the traffic and I thought to myself ‘that’s nothing to do with us is it?’” As Ellie’s mother arrived, she was faced by abandoned police cars an ambulance and Ellie’s father sobbing. When asked by police officers if Ellie had a boyfriend, she replied in the affirmative and quickly added, “He wouldn’t harm her.” Within hours, Ellie’s family were informed by the police that her death was being treated as murder and that her ex-boyfriend Thomas Griffiths was the prime suspect. He was arrested a short time after Ellie’s body was discovered.
At a hearing in August, which took place at Bristol Crown Court, Griffiths then aged 17 pleaded guilty to murder. At the trial, the court heard how the pair had started a relationship in January 2019, but shortly before her murder, Ellie had decided to stop seeing Griffiths. The court also heard how Griffiths had plotted and connived to perpetrate the heinous act and also sought to cover his tracks following the murder. Griffiths was sentenced to serve at least 12 years and six months.
The National Combating Gangs, Violence and Weapon Crime Conference is set to take place on the 3rd of December this year. Bringing together a variety of governmental and non-governmental organisations, the conference aims to tackle gang culture, weapon violence including the knife crime epidemic and explore avenues of supporting local communities. Sponsored by Axon, the conference will feature key stakeholders including representatives from:
- House of Commons
- The Metropolitan Police
- The Crown Prosecution Service
- NHS England
- Association of Police and Crime Commissioners
- Violence Prevention Unit
- Youth Charter
The Backdrop to the Conference
Violent crimes, stabbings and murder feature in the headlines on a near daily basis, particularly in London. However, as crime decreases overall, and violent crime remains a statistically improbable occurrence, high-harm incidents have witnessed a sharp and growing increase. Last year, 2018, witnessed some of the highest figures of violent crimes in which a knife or sharp or bladed article were used. Accordingly, injuries and the consequences of knife crime present another set of statistics highlighting the growing trends. Figures of under-16s treated for stab wounds have doubled over the course of the last five years.
2019 National Combating Gangs, Violence and Weapon Crime Conference
This year’s conference will include the following confirmed speakers:
- Mark Simmons, Assistant Commissioner, MET Police
- David Lammy, Member of Parliament for Tottenham
- Kenny Gibson, Head of Safeguarding, NHS England
The government’s ‘Serious Violence Strategy’ launched in April 2018 aims to put an end to violence that devastates the lives of individuals, families and communities. Equipped with £40 million worth of funding and a further £9.8 million added in February 2018, the fund seeks to engage youth in six disadvantaged areas of high concern in England.
In the heart of Manchester, Manchester Cathedral hosted a knife crime summit to draw attention to the high levels of knife crime and violence sweeping the nation. Debbie Makki, whose son Yousef Makki was stabbed to the death earlier in the year, addressed the crowd with a moving victim impact statement. The knife crime summit included a candle-lit vigil, personal testimonies and was supported by a number of community support organisations. Representatives from CARISMA, an organisation providing support, information and awareness to young people from inner south Manchester, were also in attendance. Keynote speaker Nazir Afzal OBE, former Chief Prosecutor for the North West, addressed a number of issues related to knife crime:
- The causes of knife crime
- Preventative measures
- Support for families and carers of those vulnerable to knife crime
- The identification and establishment of role models offering the vulnerable pathways away from knife crime and violent gang culture
Debbie Makki at the Knife Crime Summit
Debbie Makki’s son Yousef Makki was killed in the affluent Manchester suburb of Hale Barns, following a dispute related to drugs between him and his friends. Following a lengthy trial, Debbie was left in shock after the boy accused of causing her son’s death was cleared of murder and manslaughter. Engulfed by shock, she was unable to deliver the victim impact statement that she had prepared. At the vigil, supported by her daughter Jane, Debbie declared, “He’d been found dying in the road, alone. No one to help him, or cuddle him or speak to him, in his final moments.”
Knife Crime Summit
With Debbie Makki’s moving testimony, the vigil drew attention to one aspect of the consequences of knife crime. Testimony from a person who had been convicted of knife crime, shed light on another aspect of the rising levels of knife crime engulfing the country.