RUNCORN’S first ‘knife sweep’ has taken a range of potential weapons off the streets.
Police were joined by Live Your Life – Drop The Knife campaign founder Louis Bamber and Halton Council’s community safety supremo Cllr Dave Cargill for the event, which took place in Halton Brook and involved a search of the area’s public spaces and bushes.
The initiative, on Friday, followed widespread shock in the town over the fatal stabbing of 18-year-old Eddie O’Rourke in Halton Village, Runcorn, on September 7, and whose mother attended to show her support at the sweep.
Objects discovered included a hammer, a mallet, a large set of bolt cutters, a meat fork and metal bars, all either stashed or thrown away in the bushes.
The sweep is expected to be the first of many and it is hoped the events will encourage more residents to become involved.
Among those taking part in the first Runcorn knife sweep alongside Louis Bamber and Cllr Cargill were Runcorn’s Chief Inspector Sarah Heath, Inspector Fez Khan and several police officers.
Louis said: “Going forward, obviously the police have gotten on board, so if we get the community more and more involved we will see less (knives) on our streets. The more the community backs the campaign and the police then the less knife crime we’re going to have. “It’s all about education.” On the campaign’s hopes of developing a motorbike track, Louis said: “It’s early days, we’re still looking into what licences we need so the lads can join a motor sport championship.”
During the sweep, police pointed out that objects that might not immediately appear to be weapons can be used to cause devastating harm, such as the suspected bike seat frame used in a serious assault in Halton Lodge on April 6 last year.
Officers are now hoping to get more residents on board in uniting to beat knife crime.
Ch Insp Heath said: “This is our first community knife sweep.
“It’s to involve whole community in working together to make ● Runcorn a safer place.
“We know that people stash knives.
“We know that unfortunately people like the idea of having a knife secreted somewhere they can find while they’re out.
“This is to hand over some of the responsibility to the community in a way, to say work with us, let’s go out all of us together, it’s quite empowering.
“Let’s have a look under this bush, in this park and make the streets of Runcorn safer.
“What happened two weeks ago is unbelievably tragic but if something good can come out of that, it’s the strength of the community saying enough’s enough.
“We want to make our streets safer, we really want to build on that.”
Discussing previous finds in the bushes, Insp Khan said: “The kinds of things we find are weap- ons, drugs and we find a lot of litter as well.
“Something that came out of this is it’s prompted us to ask where are the bins? There’s a startling lack of provision.
“We’ve found knives, blunt trauma weapons, baseball bats, knuckle dusters, drugs – cocaine as recently as yesterday, and all sorts – anything that can be used as a weapon
“If we do this regularly, it’s certain to get the message out that you don’t need the police to do this.
“There’s nothing to stop the community from doing this to reinforce the pride that residents have.”
Cllr Dave Cargill, executive board member for community safety, took part in the sweep and said he joined the event after meeting Louis, where Cllr Cargill said he tried to offer assurances that youth workers were trying to engage with young people.
He added that it is becoming tougher due to budget constraints.
Cllr Cargill said: “We are concerned and things are tight for the local authority and for the police as well. We had a budget meeting yesterday and we’re 60% short of what we used to be.
“It’s becoming really.
“We endeavour to do what we can for the local people.
“If we can give any help or assistance, we’re willing to do it but the funding is so tight we just can’t do it really.” impossible
The killing of Eddie O’Rourke, above, sparked a general knife sweep which uncovered an array of weapons, right
Police and campaigners search foliage during the Halton Brook knife sweep