Police are increasing their use of controversial stop and search powers across Milton Keynes as a response to rising knife crime.
Although police chiefs contest data suggesting that knife crime has “risen by 90 per cent in Milton Keynes” they admit it has risen and are determined to fight it, a meeting in Milton Keynes was told.
“I want the force to create a hostile environment for criminality,” said Chief Constable John Campbell, at a Milton Keynes Council meeting on Wednesday. The force is expecting to receive a first wave of 180 new officers following recent Government announcements, 15 of whom will be put into the front line in Milton Keynes, he said.
Thames Valley Police is going through a process of training all its officers in what it calls Street Craft, including the use of stop and search. And they have already seen an uplift in the numbers.
“Knife crime has been a focus for the force since April and it has now stabilised,” the chief constable told the community and housing scrutiny committee.
“Stop and search is being used more and we are doing it professionally.”
Supt Tim Metcalfe, the police area commander for MK, said: “We are working with schools in challenging the notion that it is acceptable to carry a knife. We are holding knife sweeps in public areas to find weapons that have been stored for later.
“There has been an increase of 165 per cent in the police use of stop and search, and 27 per cent increase stop and arrest. We have a 25 per cent success rate. One in every four stops results in an arrest, the second highest in the Thames Valley.
“If we don’t challenge it, who else is going to challenge this behaviour?”
The police chiefs agreed that the use of body cameras is a “game-changer” by allowing the actions of their officers to be reviewed, and they are trained to be sensitive to the concerns of various communities.
Supt Metcalfe said: “We are conscious that has a history in certain communities so we need to be clear how and when it is used and not abuse it. We are having honest and frank conversations with young people.”