No quick fix for unacceptable spate of violent crime gripping Northampton this year, says police boss
The spate of violent crime gripping Northampton this year is unacceptable, according to one of the top police officers who believes there is no quick fix.
From teenagers being shot or weilding a machete to the unprecedented number of killings going through the court system, it seems violence is on the rise in the town, especially involving youths.
Assitant Chief Constable Simon Blatchly believes a combination of issues including gangs, organised crime, drugs, school exclusions, poverty and austerity that make it such a tough problem to solve.
"We have to try to divert the children away from that gang culture but we have to be careful because we're not like America, or London or Birmingham," he told the Chronicle & Echo.
"We have to be absolutely clear we're not at that stage but I accept for Northamptonshire, where we were a few years ago, yes the level of knife crime and gun crime is higher than it was and that's not acceptable."
A 15-year-old boy has been arrested over the shooting of a 16-year-old boy in the Thorplands area, in the same week two 15-year-old boys are accused of having a machete in St James.
Meanwhile five men stand trial for the murder of Reece Ottaway in an apparent botched robbery for drugs and cash - and nine men are behind bars for either murder or manslaughter in Northampton.
ACC Blatchly said: "This time last year, we had 14 murders in 12 months at one point and so far this year we're not at the same level.
"I've never known anything like it in 30 years of policing."
ACC Blatchlysaid knife and gun crime is a national issue and Northamptonshire is not alone, but believes more police officers are needed to carry out more preventative work so the violence does not happen in the first place.
"A lot of the time, like the incident we've had in Thorplands, by the time we're there and we're reacting and investigating, it's too late," he said.
"We'll do it the best we can, we'll do an ethical, professional investigation, we'll bring offenders to justice, but we don't really want to be in a position where we're dealing with a shooting."
Northamptonshire Police has changed the way it works after being criticised by the police watchdog for how it investigated crimes in an inspection earlier this year.
Police officers are being put back onto patches while new schemes to tackle gangs and help offenders leaving prison are finding success, according to ACC Blatchly.
But somehow youths need to be 'diverted', as the assistant chief constable put it, away from violence through long-term planning and working with social services and charities.
"It's about gripping this generation in dealing with this to try to divert them away from this sort of thing," he said.
"When both the victim and the suspect are youths, it's not a good position.
"So somehow we need to change the culture so it is about working with schools, educational processes and the community."