Knife crime in Cheltenham down by more than a third
KNIFE crimes in Cheltenham fell by 38 per cent last year – but are still taking place at a rate of nearly three per month.
Figures released to the Echo under the Freedom of Information Act showed the number of crimes in the town where knives or similar bladed instruments were used dropped from 55 in 2011 to 34 last year.
They included attempted murders, aggravated assaults, robberies and threats to kill.
Police hailed the figures as "very encouraging" and said they were working hard with young people in the town to ensure they continued to drop.
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Colin Pilsworth, co-ordinator of Cheltenham Night Safe, cited spot-checks by club doormen, CCTV footage and police knife arches used to scan people on entry to night clubs as the kind of work being done to minimise knife crime.
He said: "Everything is being done to prevent knife crime from surfacing in and around the town centre. Cheltenham is a very safe place on a night out and it has not been my experience that people go out 'tooled up' with knives.
"Obviously any incidents of knife crime are regrettable but the ones which do occur are rare."
The drop in knife crime in Cheltenham is well above average in Gloucestershire as a whole.
In the county there were 141 knife incidents last year compared to 198 in 2011 – a drop of 29 per cent.
Inspector Tim Waterhouse said: "These figures are very encouraging. They are certainly positive news and underline our continuing commitment to working with our partner agencies to tackle knife crime together.
"There is always more to be done and we will continue to combat this important issue through both enforcement and education."
Mr Waterhouse added that early intervention work with youngsters, through schemes like the Aston Project, were vital. The scheme was set up in memory of PC Lynn Aston, who worked tirelessly with disadvantaged youngsters before her death in 2011. It gives young people between the ages of nine and 18 the chance to take up work experience placements and go on activity camps.
He added: "Our community officers are well integrated into schools to offer advice.
"The Aston Project, an innovative youth diversionary project, is working with young people to reduce current and future offences and to improve their life opportunities."