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Knife bins and knife amnesty: May 2022

This week (Monday 9 May) a knife amnesty has launched across Essex alongside the rollout of new knife bins at 14 sites across the county, including a new knife bin at Grays.

The knife bins now feature the artwork of the three secondary school pupils who won our competition to design an anti-knife poster for display on the bins.

The winners are:

  • Thurrock competition winner: Rachida (12yrs old), from Hathaway Academy
  • Southend competition winner: Dexter (11yrs old) from Eastwood Academy
  • Essex competition winner: Bethany (13yrs old) from Cornelius Vermuyden School

Essex Police has taken over responsibility for the bins, which are funded by the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex (PFCC), the Essex Violence and Vulnerability Unit (VVU) and Essex Police.

We have also partnered with the Ben Kinsella Trust, an educational charity set up following the tragic murder of 16-year-old Ben Kinsella in 2008.  The organisation campaigns against knife crime and works with more than 4,000 young people each year in order to prevent them from straying into crime.

The knife amnesty allows anyone who wants to dispose of bladed weapons to do so safely and without fear of prosecution. The priority is for as many knives as possible to be taken off the streets of Essex.

These bins are just one element of the Violence and Vulnerability Partnership’s wider approach to tackling knife crime.

Temporary Detective Chief Inspector Clayton Ford, of the Prepare, Prevent and Protect Team, part of Essex Police’s Serious Violence Unit, said: “We put significant effort into tackling knife crime including ‘hotspot’ policing, intelligence gathering, using knife arches, and utilising additional powers such as dispersal orders and Section 60 powers, which are an extension of the stop-and-search activity which takes place every day.

“Thankfully, knife enabled crime is falling across Essex; in the year 2019/2020 – the best year with which to compare given the impact of Covid – there were 1,881 offences recorded. In 2021/2022, 1,629 offences were recoded – a drop of 13 per cent.

“But we aren’t resting on our laurels. Knife crime and violence is not an issue the police can tackle alone, and we work with partners to address it. In Essex, we are incredibly lucky to have so many partners, such as the Essex Violence and Vulnerability Unit, who believe the same as we do – that the response to knife crime requires a multi-agency approach by working with education, health, local authorities, local organisations and probation services.

“A key focus is to help divert people who are involved in, or at risk of being involved in, knife and violent crime away from this lifestyle and into areas as sports, education, volunteering, rehabilitation.

“This is a battle that we as a community must fight together. That includes educating our children about the reality of being involved in gangs and the reality that carrying a knife will not protect them but put them at more risk of being hurt or hurting someone else.”

Roger Hirst, PFCC for Essex and Chair of the Essex Violence and Vulnerability Partnership said: “We know that knife bins do a great job in taking thousands of knives off our Essex streets each year, but what is equally important is the role of education and information.

“Teaching our young people why you don’t need to carry a knife, why they should tell their friends not to carry a knife and why being knife free is the positive life choice to take. That’s why I’m delighted to be unveiling the new knife bins in Essex, the bins that young people themselves have designed. Young people who, like me, want their County to be a safe place to play, study, work and grow up in.”

As well as having their artwork featured on the knife bins the competition winners have also secured a class trip to the Ben Kinsella Trust “Choices and Consequences” exhibition. The exhibition highlights the dangers of knife crime and help the children learn about Ben’s life.

Through his legacy it helps young people understand how choices and consequences are intrinsically linked. The exhibition changes young people’s attitudes to knife crime; debunking the myth that carrying a knife will protect you.