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Day in the life of the city knife crime team

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Day in the life of the city knife crime team

From made-up dinner parties to fake DIY – the city knife crime team has heard every excuse for carrying a knife you can think of.

The team of six spend their days carrying out patrols around Nottingham in a bid to stay one step ahead of anyone involved in knife crime.

Working in pairs, officers run their own ‘mini-control room’ inside the squad car, with one driving and the other accessing intelligence in real-time using a computer.

Having this instant information to hand while on the move allows the team to anticipate whether anyone they come across could be carrying a knife.

The team seized 117 offensive weapons while out on patrol last year, with officers seeing all kinds of things during that time.

Sergeant Matt Daley, of the city knife crime team, said: “Last year we did more than a thousand stop searches and a lot of those did lead to us discovering a blade, usually a kitchen knife or a craft knife.

“We’ve found blades stuck to people’s backs, tucked into pants, socks and shoes – pretty much wherever you can imagine, people have tried to hide knives there.

“People think they’re being clever and try and run rings around us, but our job is to arrest them when they do and show them they’re not clever enough.

“The excuse when we find these knives is usually that they’re off to their auntie’s or a friend’s house to cook them dinner, or they’ve just been using it to cut up carpets or something like that.

“Please rest assured, these defences don’t stand up in a police interview or in court and in the overwhelming majority people are charged with these offences because their excuses are so poor.”

Since being set up at the end of 2016, the city knife crime team has taken more than 700 knives and other offensive weapons off the streets and away from where they can cause harm.

Despite the name however, the team aren’t just on the lookout for people with blades, with their patrols also targeting those involved with drugs and other illegal activity.

During more than 6,500 stop and searches in the last five-or-so years, the team have carried out around 2,300 drug seizures – with 333 taking place throughout 2021.

As an example, within minutes of starting a shift on 14 September 2022, PC Ken Tinley and PC Joe Riley from the team attended a stop in Radford where a driver was found to be driving while disqualified and without insurance.

A search of the suspect then resulted in a quantity of crack cocaine being discovered, with the driver later being charged with possession of a Class A drug as a result.

PC Tinley said: “Some of the stops might not necessarily lead to us uncovering knives but by being in the right place at the right time, we’re able to intercept these weapons should they be in people’s possession, while also deterring other forms of criminality.

“Our main purpose is to be out and about, be visible, and disrupt people who are likely to be carrying knives by making their time out on the street as difficult as possible.

“For every five people we stop, I’d say three out of the five we’re finding something, whether that be a knife, drugs, or something else.”

He continued: “We work as a pair, with one doing the driving and keeping an eye on what’s going on around us, and the passenger doing the same while also acting as that real-time intelligence unit using the computer.

“It’s like having a mini-control room inside the car. We can see the results straight away on the screen, there’s no confusion about if it’s the right person, as you’ve done the checks yourself and have the confidence to say that.

“In the back of our minds, when we do these checks, we’re always considering whether the person we’ve stopped might have some links to knife crime and whether we have grounds to search them. If you don’t do the checks, you’ll never know.”

Nottinghamshire Police is one of only a handful of forces in the country to have a dedicated knife crime team – in fact it has two separate teams of officers covering the city as well as the county.

Sgt Daley added: “A lot of people who carry knives have links to organised crime groups and the drugs trade, because they feel they need to arm themselves against others.

“Knife crime does very much go hand in hand with the drugs trade, so that’s why we target people linked to this activity during our patrols, to help intercept potential knife crime before it happens.

“We are a proactive team tasked solely with looking for people who are likely to be knife carriers but of course if we do spot other illegal activity while we’re out and about, we will also act on that as well.

“If you have a knife and we stop you, we will find it. On top of that, carrying a knife won’t protect you, it’ll actually put you at a greater risk of harm so I’d warn people against carrying them in public, it’s just not worth it.”

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Nottinghamshire Police
Sherwood Lodge, Arnold
NG5 8PP Nottinghamshire,
United Kingdom