Help me to cut down on knife offences
THE new Chief Inspector for West Lancashire has pledged to continue to crack down on knife crime as he outlined his plans for the role.
Speaking exclusively to the Advertiser, Ch Insp Ian Jones also explained that he wants to work more with the communities of West Lancs to prevent crime, adopting a “help me to help you” approach.
As part of this, heis urging residents to speak to police, both to help with major investigations and to identify priorities which the force should target.
Ch Insp Jones, a fitness fanatic who competes inendurance competitions, stepped into the job in September after being promoted from a role within Merseyside police, where he had spent 11 years working on the dog handling unit and more recently worked in neighbourhood policing in South Sefton.
Before that, he worked in rural areas with Thames Valley police and is now delighted to be serving West Lancashire, he also lives.
While his previous role saw him work frequently with Lancashire police on border operations and cross-border crime, Ch Insp Jones, now the highest-ranking police officer in West Lancashire, plans to use his experience dealing with gangs and crime in Merseyside to help improve policing in Lancashire.
In his first few days in the role he met the police’s key partners – such as West Lancashire Borough Council, social services and youth and volunteer groups – to understand the ways of working and establish the key problems.
One of the biggest priorities to tackle, he said, was the level of knife crime which has blighted Skelmersdale; in the latest incident a man suffered a punctured lung after being attacked last month.
He also plans to target burglary in the coming weeks, an offence which happens more frequently around Christmas, and wants to encourage residents to make police aware of local problems.
In relation to tackling knife crime, he said: “It’s about identifying who’s causing the issues, who are the people carrying the knives, why are they carrying the knives, how to prevent people who are connected to them from doing the same thing in the future.
“My main message to our community is that we need their help for us to help them. Help us to help you.
“We need people to be talking to us, to be telling us who’s carrying knives, why they’re carrying knives, where they’re storing them, where they’re getting them from.
“They can do this anonymously by Crimestoppers and I promise that any information we do get we’ll act upon it and we’ll feed back where we can.”
The force brought in extra officers from across the county and issued a Section 60 order – giving more powers to stop and search members of the public – last month, after the latest stabbing, and Ch Insp Jones says the force will continue to use all its powers to tackle the crime.
No stabbings have occurred since and Ch Insp Jones issued a stark warning to those carrying out the shocking attacks.
“We are targeting individuals we feel might be connected and we’re using all our powers, and our partners’ powers, such as tenancy agreements with the council. Our officers are getting empowered to the normal stop and search powers, which is a very powerful tool.
“My message to people carrying knives is that if you are in the area and you are someone who we believe may be carrying a weapon or any illegal object, whether it be drugs or stolen property, you should expect to get stopped by my officers, because they’ve got the powers to do so.”
Police are also planning to crack down on burglaries over Christmas, with officers instructed to extend house-to-house inquiries further around the area, after such incidents and a dedicated operation launched to urge residents to properly secure their homes to prevent access for burglars.
While many people in different areas of West Lancashire have complained about antisocial behaviour and vandalism, Ch Insp Jones wants them to make sure all instances are reported so officers can target hotspots.
“Our main issue is that communication is key, we need to know about it.
“If people suffer in silence, then we haven’t got a magic ball to see where these things are.
“We haven’t got as many patrols as we used to years ago, and I’ve got to send them to the right place. If people aren’t reporting it, then I don’t know it’s an issue.”
A day after this interview, Ch Insp Jones flew to America to compete in a 24-hour “tough mudder” competition, featuring electric shocks and cliff jumping.
He is carrying out the effort to help buy prosthetic legs and running blades for a young Sefton boy who was born with fibular hemimelia and faces life as an amputee.
To find out more about his challenge, visit: gofundme.com/ run-to-give-a-boy-achance-to
To report non-emergency crime, call 101, use Lancashire police’s online form or contact Crime-stoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.