A Catholic peace campaigner has suggested that the police turn to the wider public to help assist them in knife searches amid worries that violent criminals are stashing weapons in parks and children’s play areas.
The shock revelation comes as Detective Chief Superintendent Lee Hill, who leads the Metropolitan Police Violent Crime Taskforce, said officers find hidden weapons on a daily basis in London, typically in open spaces such as parks where they can be accessed quickly. In one location, Crouch Hill, in north London, eight knives were found hidden during three weapons sweeps in one week, several of which were in a playground.
Barry Mizen, of For Jimmy, suggested that the force could also consider appealing to the public for assistance.
He told The Catholic Universe: “One interesting idea might be to ask the wider public to become involved to help stop this.
“A couple of years ago, Lewisham police invited members of the public to join them in a knife search; it turned up some weapons but more importantly it allowed the public to become engaged with the issue.
“It’s at least some response and encouraging co-operation between the police and the public,” he added.
Mr Mizen also pointed out that while knives being hidden in public areas is a major concern, it also proves that stop and searches are causing criminals to be anxious over carrying weapons.
“The concealment of weapons is being driven by the success of ‘stop and search’,” he said. “We have to take some comfort in that as stop and search has been such a political issue and continues to be, could the very fact of weapon concealment being attributed to stop and search be the proof that it works.”
One hundred officers have been moved into teams targeting violent crime from other parts of the Met.
As well as targeting areas that are hotspots, investigators are focusing on around 200 known criminals such as habitual knife carriers, prolific robbers and serial violent offenders.
Commander Jane Connors said: “They are a range of habitual knife carriers, prolific robbers, prolific violent offenders, so it is a range of different offenders within that who we believe are causing the highest harm and exploiting young people, driving violence.”
Picture: Posed by model. A person in a hoodie holding a knife. (Katie Collins/PA).