Stop and search is a vital tool in the fight against knife crime, Hounslow’s borough commander said today, after the third stabbing in less than a month.
Chief Superintendent Paul McGregor said that of 771 searches carried out for weapons in the borough during 2013/14, 203 had resulted in arrests - a success rate of 26.3 per cent.
He claimed the powers helped police remove knives from the streets and reinforce the message that carrying weapons, even for your own protection, would not be tolerated.
“If young people are tempted to carry knives there’s a real cost in doing that,” he said.
“If they are caught with a weapon they will feel the full force of the law and that could affect their future. They could also potentially find themselves in an incident where they use that weapon with tragic consequences.
“Stop and search is clearly under a lot of scrutiny but these figures demonstrate we’re executing the powers responsibly, and we’re looking for community support for that action. When exercised properly it’s a tool which can help save lives.”
Home secretary Theresa May last month announced plans to tighten the guidelines on when stop and search powers could be used, following concerns it could damage public trust in the police.
The attack followed the fatal stabbing of 18-year-old Jamil Palmer in Hanworth last week, over which five arrests have now been made, and the knifing of a 19-year-old in Old Farm Close, Hounslow, on April 21. None of the three incidents are believed to be connected.
Mr McGregor told getwestlondon today the incidents were the exception rather than the rule, with knife crime in the borough down 17.1 per cent last year compared with 2012/13.
But he added that any incident was one too many, which is why he had met the council’s chief executive and head of children’s services this week to discuss a long term plan.
He said the borough’s five police schools officers were already working to remind pupils of the consequences of carrying a knife, as well as dealing with lower level concerns.
But he added that it was also important for the police to help celebrate the achievements of Hounslow’s young people, which he planned to do at an awards ceremony on Wednesday (May 14) night.
Asked whether Hounslow had a gang problem, he said: “There are clearly young people who think it’s OK to carry knives and we have to crack on and challenge that culture.
“But we’re working hard to tackle youth violence in whatever form it takes to prevent the establishment of a gang culture here.”