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Huge rise in knife crime prompts amnesty across Cambridgeshire - there were 87 recorded crimes in just four months

James Cromwell and his son Leon.
James Cromwell and his son Leon.

A huge rise in knife crime across Cambridgeshire has led the county’s police to hold an amnesty as part of a national initiative to tackle the issue.

Figures released by Cambridgeshire Constabulary show that recorded knife crime within the county has risen by more than 25 per cent which is in line with a national increase.

Andrew Hasler was stabbed 17 times.
Andrew Hasler was stabbed 17 times.

Between September 1 last year and January 30 there has been 87 recorded crimes where a knife or sharp instrument has been used.

There has also been a 16 per cent increase in the number of crimes of possession of a knife from 167 in 2016 to 194 in 2017.

In June this year 27-year-old James Cromwell died of a single stab wound to the heart in Stretton Avenue, Cambridge. His killer, 25-year-old Abdul Korim Ali used the knife he was carrying after a row broke out between the pair. He is now serving a life prison sentence.

His mother, Linda Hall, hopes her son’s death will make people think twice about choosing to carry a knife

Machetes and swords are among bladed items handed in during a week-long knives amnesty in Cambridgeshire in November.
Machetes and swords are among bladed items handed in during a week-long knives amnesty in Cambridgeshire in November.

She said: “If Ali hadn’t been carrying a knife then chances are there would’ve been a scuffle of some sort but no one would’ve died and James would be here today.

“Ali’s family might not be able to get their heads around what happened but at least he’s alive and they can visit him. All we get to see is a cemetery.

“Knife crime takes more than one life, it takes us all. If you choose to carry a knife there will be no winners, just losers.”

Helen Frazier’s son Andrew Hasler, 28, died on January 8, 2016 after he was stabbed 17 times at his home in St Ives.

She said: “Think about the parents, brothers, sisters, family, friends, the whole community. No parent should ever have to bury their child. I know it happens through illness but something that’s as needless as this, it shouldn’t happen.

“You can carry a knife and be lucky and never use it but how do you know you won’t. You don’t.”

Starting on Monday (February 12) members of the public will be able to hand in knives without prosecution as part of Operation Sceptre, a week long amnesty.

The last amnesty was held in October and resulted in 90 bladed items being recovered.

Bins will be located at police stations across the county including March, Wisbech and Ely.

Chief Inspector Marcia Pringle said: “People carrying knives, particularly young people who carry knives do so without understanding the real consequences of using them, the devastation it can cause to those who are seriously injured or fatally wounded, nor the impact on the families who have lost loved ones. Helen and Linda’s stories illustrate the heartbreak and overwhelming grief they experience every day and will do so for the rest of their lives. Two grieving mothers who would never had experienced this if it wasn’t for the fact that the perpetrators were in possession of a knife.

“This knife amnesty is an opportunity to protect our loved ones from serious harm or a life changing conviction. If you have a son or a daughter, brother or sister, have that conversation with them, ask them if they carry a knife, and encourage them to stop. Encourage them to hand their knife in. That one conversation could be life changing and that one small action could be enough to save a life.”

It is illegal to: Sell a knife of any kind to anyone under 18 years old; Carry a knife in a public place without good reason – unless it’s a knife with a folding blade three inches long (7.62cm) or less, eg a Swiss Army knife; Carry, buy or sell any type of banned knife; Use any knife in a threatening way (even a legal knife).

The maximum penalty for an adult carrying a knife is four years in prison and a fine of £5,000.

Anyone who knows someone who carries a knife can also report it anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or visiting https://crimestoppers-uk.org

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