close
close

How the battle against knife crime is intensifying after a spate of tragedies

The fight against knife crime is intensifying after a spate of fatal stabbings in Bradford and surrounding areas.

This week, West Yorkshire Police are carrying out Operation Scepter – a national initiative to tackle knife crime.

The campaign includes special patrols, knife sweeps, test buy operations and a range of other police activities.

Virtual reality classes will also be held to educate young people about the devastating consequences of carrying a blade.

The operation comes just weeks after Kulsuma Akter, 27, was stabbed in Bradford city centre.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: A vigil to remember Kulsuma Akter was held in Bradford late last monthBradford Telegraph and Argus: A vigil to remember Kulsuma Akter was held in Bradford late last month

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: A vigil to remember Kulsuma Akter was held in Bradford late last month

A memorial vigil for Kulsuma Akter was held in Bradford at the end of last month (Image: Newsquest)

Mrs Akter was pushing her son in a pram along Westgate when she was fatally attacked on the afternoon of April 6.

Habibur Masum, 25, of Leamington Avenue, Burnley, was charged with Ms Akter’s murder.

Masum is due to stand trial on December 2.

Earlier this year, the Telegraph & Argus reported research which showed that at least 17 fatal stabbings took place in West Yorkshire in 2023.

The youngest to die was Alfie Lewis, 15, who was attacked in Horsforth shortly before 3pm on November 7 last year.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Tributes have been paid to Alfie Lewis after his deathBradford Telegraph and Argus: Tributes have been paid to Alfie Lewis after his death

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Tributes have been paid to Alfie Lewis after his death

Tributes have been paid to Alfie Lewis after his death (Image: Telegraph & Argus)

Alfie was stabbed twice, a chest wound penetrating his heart and causing catastrophic bleeding.

He was pronounced dead at the hospital a short time later.

Earlier this month, a 15-year-old boy, who was 14 at the time of the murder, was found guilty of Alfie’s murder.

The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is due to be sentenced on June 21.

Meanwhile, a man who stabbed two people to death outside a nightclub is due to be sentenced on June 3.

Rashane Douglas, of Jade Place, Huddersfield, was found guilty at Bradford Crown Court in March of murdering Joshua Clark, 21, from Wakefield, who had links to Bradford, and Haidar Shah, 19.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Joshua Clark and Haidar ShahBradford Telegraph and Argus: Joshua Clark and Haidar Shah

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Joshua Clark and Haidar Shah

Joshua Clark and Haidar Shah (Image: West Yorkshire Police)

The 19-year-old stabbed the two men in a jealous rage with an 8-inch knife outside Maggie’s nightclub in Commercial Street, Halifax, in the early hours of October 1 last year.

Chief Inspector James Kitchen is from West Yorkshire Police’s Operation Jemlock, which has been dedicated to reducing violent crime since 2019.

Speaking to the T&A at an Operation Scepter event in Halifax today, he said knife crime had left communities “completely devastated”.

“There have been many tragic stories lately as you have reported,” he said.

“We know residents are very concerned about knife crime and we remain committed to the significant work we do to reduce it.

“Our operations run every day of the week to take criminals and guns off the streets, just as the huge investment in knife crime awareness works in communities and young people in particular.

“Scepter’s Action Weeks are a very important part of our ongoing work with partners to reduce knife crime.

“Residents will see a range of operations taking place in their communities by Operation Jemlock and Neighborhood Policing Team officers, including evidence-led patrols, knife sweeps, test buy operations and a range of enforcement activities.

“Officers will also attend a number of schools to engage with young people about the risks to themselves and others if they carry knives.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Chief Inspector James Kitchen, of West Yorkshire PoliceBradford Telegraph and Argus: Chief Inspector James Kitchen, of West Yorkshire Police

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Chief Inspector James Kitchen, of West Yorkshire Police

Chief Inspector James Kitchen, of West Yorkshire Police (Image: Newsquest)

Chf Insp Kitchen added that virtual reality was being used to help educate young people about knife crime.

He said: “Virtual reality plays out an experience of being pressured to carry a gun.

“It helps measure people’s decision-making and life choices.

“It helps teach people to make the right decisions and choices.

“There is potential to use more virtual reality in the future.”

Police have also used the technology to send anti-knife crime messages directly to young people’s phones, he added.

Chf Insp Kitchen urged people not to carry knives.

“If nobody’s carrying a knife, then everybody’s safe,” he said.

“If you do, you are more at risk – and could be arrested and jailed.”

West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin said she was “concerned, distressed and devastated” by the knife crime.

“Please don’t carry a knife,” she added.

“Every life lost to violent crime is a tragedy, which is why we are determined to address this as a matter of urgency.

“We will work to prevent the heartache of families who lose loved ones to violent crime.”