Watch: Senior Police officer moves to reassure councillors after 98 knives are deposited in an amnesty bin
Chief inspector Richard Ogden and superintendent Teresa Lam took questions from Harrogate councillors last night at a meeting about policing.
The town has been in shock after 17-year-old Seb Mitchell died after an incident at a property on Claro Road on February 19.
The police have since launched a murder investigation.
After paying tribute to the teenager, Liberal Democrat councillor for Fairfax, Chris Aldred, said that 98 knives had been deposited in a ‘knife amnesty bin’ since it was placed at Dragon Road car park last month.
He queried if the town now has a problem with knives.
In response, Ch Insp Ogden said that “we are living in one of the safest counties in England” and that the incident on Claro Road was an isolated one. He said:
“Any incident involving a knife can end in tragedy. Our condolences go out to all those involved in that tragic incident.
“It is an isolated incident, but in a split second a knife can cause fatal injuries. Whether you’re the victim or the offender, anything involving a knife can end in tragedy.”
Rise in knife crime
In the year ending March 2022, there were around 45,000 offences involving a knife or sharp instrument in England and Wales, which is 34% higher than in 2010/11.
However, Ch Insp Ogden said that knife crime in Harrogate is no more of a problem than in other areas. He said:
“Do we have a problem? I don’t see Harrogate as more of a problem than anywhere else. It would be wrong of me to say knives are prevalent on the streets.
“But we’ve got to encourage people to not carry knives at any point. Particularly those who take that knife out for their own protection.”
Knife amnesty bin
The knife bin in Harrogate was installed on January 23 and is the first of its kind in North Yorkshire.
The Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorkshire Police project, which is paid for and managed by the police, was introduced due to a rise in the number of knife-related incidents in the county.
Ch Insp Ogden said the “vast, vast majority” of knives deposited have been unwanted household knives, suggesting most of the blades were not deposited by criminals or gang members.
“We actively encourage people to put any weapons in that bin rather than being in the house. One knife off the street is one less potential incident.”