Many people will be concerned about the news of a knife crime incident yesterday in Central Park. I share their concerns. I understand that the risk to the wider public from this incident is considered to be low.
Much of the knife crime across the UK is drug and gang related. In Essex, there has been a considerable increase in police resources across Essex and locally our police have been carrying out operations to target and disrupt drugs gangs. This has included a significant increase in stop and search. There have been a number of arrests. For example, today the courts agreed to two interim gang applications. These will put extremely stringent restrictions on the movements and activities of certain identified individuals.
I recently asked Chelmsford City Council to make CCTV improvements in Central Park. The CCTV units in the park have been upgraded to high definition units. These cameras are strategically placed within the park to obtain maximum coverage. Chelmsford City Council are helping the police with their investigation in relation to the incident that took place this week.
In Westminster, MPs have supported a new Offensive Weapons Bill that will make it more difficult to purchase knives; place new restrictions on online sales of bladed articles and corrosive products, including restrictions on deliveries to residential premises, and introduce a new offence of possessing certain offensive weapons in public. It also brings forwards new powers for the police to use Knife Crime Protection Orders.
This week, Prime Minister is holding a special meeting at Number 10 Downing Street. The four-day summit will involve more than 100 expert organsiations from across the country and comes after the Home Secretary announced plans for a new multi-agency response to violent crime.
It is really important that residents do keep reporting crimes and any intelligence into the police. It makes a real difference to their work.