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Councillors warned young people are carrying weapons out of fear

Councillors warned young people are carrying weapons out of fear

Published by The Stray FM News Team at 1:00pm 4th March 2020.

North Yorkshire Police’s detective superintendent Stephen Thomas said this to a Harrogate Borough Council meeting.

  • Concern and fear has led to more young people are arming themselves with dangerous weapons.
  • There have been incidents of youngsters being caught with knives in Harrogate this year.
  • The meeting was held this week.

North Yorkshire Police have warned councillors more young people are arming themselves with dangerous weapons – including knives – out of “great concern and fear.”

North Yorkshire Police’s detective superintendent Stephen Thomas said fears are being brought by violent crimes and the district’s County Lines drug dealing problems – but added officers are stepping up work in schools to win over young minds. 

Det Supt Thomas said:

“At Christmas we had the tragic incident where a member of the public was stabbed – not directly linked to County Lines – but they were picked on because they were vulnerable.

“We have been employing all our resources to get to grips with County Lines. One of the things that comes with it is people out of the area resorting to using weapons, or a threat of weapons, as a means of protecting their business model. 

“They think it makes them safe – but in fact it is the complete opposite.” 

Three teenage boys – aged 13, 15 and 16 – were charged with robbery and wounding with intent after the stabbing near Harrogate’s Victoria shopping centre in January.

In February, North Yorkshire Police launched a crackdown on knife crime in Harrogate and Ripon. Operation Disarm is aiming to protect young people from the risks associated with carrying knives through intervention and enforcement. In addition, more stop-and-search powers are being enforced and officers are patrolling in plain clothes.

At the overview and scrutiny meeting on Monday, March 2, councillors questioned whether the police’s enforcement efforts were being rewarded with stronger sentences for those caught carrying weapons. 

Det Supt Thomas said although tougher punishments are being imposed – they are not necessarily the way forward for young people.

“If a teenager is silly enough to get caught with a knife because someone at school has threatened them, the outcome for that person may not be going through criminalisation. Yes, we have to bookmark it, but we have a range of different outcomes. 

“But if someone has a violent history and is caught with weapons – then yes they will be dealt with by the courts.”

North Yorkshire Police carried out a series of raids last month as part of Operation Jackal, designed to disrupt the County Lines operations. Police made 17 arrests and seized weapons, phones and Class A drugs.