Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner has secured almost £3m in Government funding to help tackle and prevent knife crime and serious violence across the county.
One of 18 areas across the country to be allocated funding in the form of £1.82m from the Knife Crime Fund and £1.16m for the setting up and running of a Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), the funding comes as part of the £100m announced for forces by the Chancellor in the Spring Statement, with Lancashire submitting detailed proposals on how the funding will be spent.
With their plans for the money signed off by the Home Office, the impact on the streets of the county have already been felt in the form of a 146% increase in stop-search activity last month, with 679 stop-searches in July 2019 compared with 276 in July 2018.
These figures come off the back of comprehensive studies showing that black people are seven times more likely to be stopped by police forces conducting stop-searches than white people, with only around one in 10 of those incidents actually leading to an arrest, leading to vehement calls for more substantiated and evidence-based stop-searches.
The funding will also be used for more police patrols in areas affected by knife crime in the form of crime prevention initiatives such as knife surrenders and work with schools, colleges, and other partner agencies.
“I fully support the ‘public health’ approach to violent crime," said Commissioner Clive Grunshaw. "We continue to lose too many young lives to serious violence and it’s crucial that all parts of our society work together to tackle it head-on and make our communities safer.
"Whilst I welcome this funding to reduce crime and re-offending - a key priority in my Police and Crime Plan - I will continue to lobby for fairer funding which protects policing for the long term and provides consistent, additional resources without passing the burden onto council tax payers," he added.
Rates of knife crime in Lancashire are still low compared to other neighbouring forces. Between April and December 2018, a total of 849 crimes were reported where a knife or sharp instrument was used; an increase of 167 from 682 recorded in the same period of the previous year. However, during the same period all violent crime in these categories rose by 20% due to changes in recording practices.
Chief Supt Sue Clarke from Lancashire Police said: “We know that over half of offences involving a knife happen in a private space and in most cases the offender was known to the victim, with a partner or family member often the perpetrator. However, over recent months we’ve also had reports of knives being used in public spaces which is clearly a concern for local communities.
“I would encourage anyone with information about knife crime to contact police or independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111," she added.