73 guns taken from the streets of Blackbird Leys in last knife amnesty
Creepy display knives and a butter knife were among 73 guns left in an amnesty bin or seized by Blackbird Leys police officers in a knife blitz.
Sergeant Alex Penn, a neighborhood sergeant on the Oxford estate and a police officer with 10 years of experience, said he was surprised at the range of weapons handed over.
“We had everything from zombie knives to large machetes, instant knives and lockable knives to the butter knife,” he told The Oxford Mail.
“Fewer knives means there are fewer opportunities to access a weapon in the heat of battle.”
The danger is very real. In October, a man in his 30s suffered multiple stab wounds after being attacked in Blackbird Leys Park. Four years ago, Christopher Lemonius, 27, lost his life after being stabbed, beaten and left for dead in an alley near Jourdain Road.
Sgt Penn said the knife amnesty – part of the force-wide Operation Scepter anti-knife campaign and Operation Blackbird Leys Beaming – was a chance to talk to people weapons.
“Even though it might just be a small number each time, it gradually draws attention to the fact that it is not okay to have [a knife].
“I don’t expect that all of a sudden every criminal will give up his knives. It does not work like that.
“But I want people to see that we are engaging in a positive way.”
The knife amnesty bin outside Blackbird Leys Police Station Photo: TVP
The amnesty bins, in which people could put their weapons without having to answer questions, offered a way out: 10 don’t want to carry a knife. They see the opportunity [to dispose of it], that we are there and ready to engage with them.
During the two-week amnesty, officers also searched Blackbird Leys and Barton parks. This year, three weapons were found compared to six last year.
The officers, who are based on Blackbird Leys Road, also carried out two drug arrest warrants on the estate – seizing cannabis, Class A drugs and wads of cash bills.
Money and cannabis found in recent raids at Blackbird Leys Pictures: TVP
For Sgt Penn, however, the work his officers do in local elementary schools is just as important.
There are already around 40 children at Pegasus Primary School enrolled in a “mini police” initiative. “The idea, really, is to involve them in community events,” he said.
Another CP was creating a presentation for young teens about the dangers of carrying guns.
But Sgt Penn made it clear that young people carrying knives were a minority. “Few children carry knives. Yeah, maybe it’s a darker picture now than it has been in the past [but] we are involved in a lot of stop searches and we don’t find a lot of knives on teens at Blackbird Leys.
Asked about his message to those who would be tempted to bear arms: “It is not necessary for your protection and you will absolutely be in the minority.”
PC Beth Snowdon, PCSO Jack Hickman and Sgt Alex Penn, members of the Neighborhood Police Team for Blackbird Leys
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