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Plan to take £71k away from Kent County Council anti-knife crime fund blocked

A bid to take £71,000 away from Kent County Council's anti-knife crime fund has failed.

The money had been allocated as part of efforts to tackle serious and organised crime across the county, but a proposal to use it to hire two Trading Standards officers instead caused confusion among councillors.

One in eight people convicted of knife crime in Cambridgeshire were children. (26973998)
One in eight people convicted of knife crime in Cambridgeshire were children. (26973998)

The new recruits would be tasked with taking action against irresponsible traders selling knives without checking ID.

KCC opposition leader, Cllr Dara Farrell (Lab), a member of the committee, took issue with the move saying: "I propose we delete the £71,000 for Trading Standards officers.

"The reason people are stabbing each other is not suddenly because traders have become irresponsible."

His comments come following last year's action plan laid out by KCC to tackle recent growing instances of knife crime in the county, which more than doubled between April 2010 and September 2018, from 346 offences to 873.

And only five months ago student Andre Bent, 21, was fatally stabbed in Maidstone's Jubilee Square.

Cllr Ian Chittenden (Lib Dem), a member of the original knife crime select committee, said: "These new posts. Have they just appeared or do they have a specific role for the youth side?"

He added: "I would want to see a development of what we have got here."

Council officers said they couldn't comment on the impact on youth services because it "does not fall within this committee".

A motion was put forward by Cllr Farrell to the committee to remove the £71,000 funding, which was seconded by Cllr Andrew Bowles (Con), former Swale council leader.

But, the majority of elected members were unconvinced with the idea.

Cllr Jeremy Kite (Con), who is also Dartford council leader, said: "This is not a good reason for cutting expenditure on knife crime.

KMTV report from a major knife crime conference in Chatham

"It seems extraordinary to me that any member would suggest to cut that and yet do not know exactly what they are cutting."

Agreeing with her counterpart, Cllr Rosalind Binks (Con), said the decision was "too rushed" and "arbitrary", adding: "This is budgeting on the hoof here."

KCC's growth, economic development and communities cabinet committee voted against Cllr Farrell's proposition during the public meeting at Maidstone County Hall earlier today.

The county council's cabinet will meet on January 27 for a final say on the proposed budget before a decision is made at full council on February 14.

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