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Committee set up in response to rising knife crime in Kent

Kent County Council will set up a committee to tackle the rise in knife crime following several attacks in recent weeks.

Councillors will look at what more can be done by public bodies to reduce the number of knife related crimes in the county.

This comes after three stabbings were reported over the weekend.

Phil Wellbrook looked into government plans to tackle knife crime announced yesterday

On Friday evening a man was airlifted to a London hospital following a serious incident in Herne Bay.

A man in his 20s was attacked near a shopping centre in Tonbridge on Saturday morning.

And in the early hours of Sunday, police were called to Harbour Parade in Ramsgate after a man in his 20s was attacked with a knife.

Official statistics revealed Kent has seen the fastest rise in knife crime in the country.

"The Conesrvative group is totally behind an urgent select committee that I think should jump the queue out of necessity..." Paul Carter

The number of offences has increased by 152% since 2011 from 346 to 873.

In response, Kent Police launched a campaign called Operation Sceptre which led to 250 weapons being seized and more than 95 arrests.

Council leader Paul Carter (Con) announced plans to set up a select committee at the last county council meeting but it is due to be confirmed tomorrow.

On March 21, he said: "This is a big and important issue.

KMTV went to a raid as part of Operation Sceptre

"The Conesrvative group is totally behind an urgent select committee that I think should jump the queue out of necessity.

"The basic subject matter for that will be knife crime in Kent, could we be doing more across all public agencies, if so what?

"It would turn into the actions we could implement to help keep young people safe and start to see a reduction in the horrific increase in knife crime."

Leader of the opposition, Cllr Rob Bird (Lib Dem), supported the proposal but urged the council to "get answers quickly".

Cllr Paul Carter (8192804)
Cllr Paul Carter (8192804)

He said: "I support the leader of the council on his select committee on knife crime but on one condition- I would like it not to be a leisurely six-month select committee.

"Let's get some answers quickly. This is a pressing problem.

"It is one where we have to engage with the Police, with partners in the 12 districts and also Medway.

"I think this is something we can organise to be short, sharp and incisive - that is critical."

Cllr Rob Bird
Cllr Rob Bird

The leader of the Labour group Cllr Dara Farrell criticised the Conservatives for not agreeing to increase funding for youth services in light of the spike in violence among young people.

Cllr Farrell said: "Since February it's been announced that our county, the Garden of England, has had the highest rate of knife crime in the entire country in the last year.

"I plead for members of the majority group to pontificate less and attempt to improve their understanding of what life is like for young people across our county.

"We welcome any steps this council takes to improve the safety and lives of young people across Kent."

It has not been made public when this select committee will begin its research into the epidemic.

More details about this is due to be announced tomorrow at KCC's select committee.

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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