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Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - - Father Denies Stabbing Toddler, Two, In The Neck - BY OLIVER CLAY oliver.clay@trin­i­tymir­ror.com @Oliv­erClayRWWN

www.run­cor­nand­widnesweek­lynews.co.uk ●

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

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