Help me to cut down on knife of­fences

Ormskirk Advertiser - - Front Page - BY JAMIE LOPEZ jamie.lopez@reach­ @jamie_lopez1

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: 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.

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