Greater Manchester Police has urged parents to check on their children after a spate of stabbings.
GMP Assistant Chief Constable Chris Sykes today said it’s about “taking the time to understand who they’re hanging round with, where they’re going on an evening”.
The advice comes after five stabbings in Manchester over the last 10 days.
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Kennie Carter, 16, Alan Szelugowski, 17, and 20-year-old Dylan Keelan have all been knifed to death in the last two weeks.
Last night a man was stabbed in the neck in Hulme and a gun fired. Four hours earlier a 21-year-old victim was stabbed in Walkden, Salford.
Police have ramped up patrols and have stopped and searched more than 100 people across Manchester, Bolton, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan over the weekend.
GMP Assistant Chief Constable Chris Sykes told the Manchester Evening News that people should not be ‘in fear’ over this increase in knife crime and urged parents and carers to speak to young people about the dangers of carrying a knife.
“This is always the key to this for me, I’ve got teenagers myself, I’m part of that community,” he said.
“It’s about speaking to your young people, your children, taking the time to understand who they’re hanging round with, where they’re going on an evening.
“Are you really happy that they’re not just out getting into trouble and causing mischief?”
ACC Sykes also explained that many of these fatal incidents can have very ‘insignificant’ beginnings on social media.
“Do you know if they’re having falling outs at school or online, there is an incident going on online, because tragically a lot of the incidents stem from something incredibly minor.
“But then when it’s put on social media it turns into something we call ‘toxic masculinity’ where no one wants to back down and reaches levels that are so disproportionate.
“So my advice to parents and family members who are concerned is to speak to young people, speak to them to make sure you know what they’re doing and where they’re doing it.
“Speak to them and make sure they understand the consequences of just leaving the house with a knife, even if you have no intention of using it, what could happen.”
Despite fears within the community, he wanted to stress that these incidents seen recently ‘don’t happen all the time’ and are unpredictable in their nature.
I have added; “I don’t want people to be fearful, fear of crime, fear of knife crime is one of the biggest drivers of individuals to carry weapons.
“If they themselves feel concerned or fearful. If you do feel that way please speak to us before deciding to do anything yourself.
“Policing knife crime is hard because recent events have shown it is not something you can predict or anticipate where it’s going to come from.
“You certainly can’t predict who’s going to do it, as a lot of these are young people who ordinarily policing wouldn’t set out to target but the communities need to be reassured that we are putting additional resources out.”
Section 60 stop and search powers were put in place over the weekend, giving the police the right to search people without reasonable grounds in a defined area at a specific time.
This was put in place in nine areas which police have defined as areas with particular knife crime problems, and included Stretford and Old Trafford, Manchester City Centre, Broughton Park and Kersal, and more.
This was in response to the killings of 16-year-old Kennie Carter, 17-year-old Alan Szelugowski, and 20-year-old Dylan Keelan, over the last three consecutive weekends.
GMP confirmed that 103 people were stopped and searched over the weekend, which led to six arrests for offenses including theft without consent, possession of cannabis and public order offenses.
A 49-year-old being stabbed in the neck in Hulme in the early hours of this morning, and a 21-year-old man being found with stab wounds in Salford late last night (February 6) is unlikely to alleviate many people’s fears however.
Asked about this ACC Sykes said that police presence will be stepped up in areas of concern and stopping and searching will remain in place.
However, a section 60 order can only be put in place if there are particular grounds to do so, such as ‘information that violence will happen or may happen or has happened’, Mr Sykes said.
He added: “We are putting additional resources out across Greater Manchester in areas that we know suffer high levels of violence and the officers always have the power to stop and search individuals if they believe they have the grounds to and one of them grounds is if they believe they are carrying a knife.”
Finally, ACC Sykes made a plea to the community to join the fight to tackle knife crime.
“That being said, our communities have a part to play in this fight. If you know or suspect someone is carrying a weapon, please report it to police or Crimestoppers immediately – before it is too late.
“If you carry a weapon, my plea is that you surrender it using one of our no questions asked Forever Amnesty bins which are located at 13 police stations – one in each district and multiple in Manchester.”