A Disarming Encounter

Shepherd’s Bush police search for weapons in knife arch operation

Local police set up a knife arch at Goldhawk Road Tube station last Saturday (14 June) in a bid to tackle knife crime in the area.


The Shepherd’s Bush Green Safer Neighbourhood Team carried out spot checks on people coming out of the station, who were met by an airport-style gateway and officers carrying hand-held scanners.


“We won’t tolerate people carrying knives,” said Sergeant Ian Lewis.


“Evidence shows it is predominantly young men of all ethnic backgrounds who carry knives,” he said. “There is also evidence of females carrying them,” he added, pointing to a female officer on hand to assist with searches. There were plain clothes police officers outside the station area for backup.


During the two-hour operation, 24 people of all ages and backgrounds were stopped and searched, one knife was surrendered and one arrest made, on an unrelated matter.


“Knife crime is not particularly bad in this area,” Sergeant Lewis said. “There are other boroughs that are much worse.” 


Recent local knife incidents include the stabbings of two young men on the Uxbridge Road last February, as well as the fatal stabbing of teenager Kodjo Yenga in Hammersmith Grove in March 2007.


At an earlier knife arch operation near Shepherd’s Bush Market, police recovered 14 knives – cooking knives confiscated from homeless people, many of whom were Polish.


“It is not an offence to carry knives in Poland,” Sergeant Lewis said. Officers had a Polish interpreter with them to ease communication.


Under current legislation, anyone caught carrying a knife without good reason faces a maximum prison sentence of four years, but if the blade is less than three inches (7.6 centimetres) long, the punishment can be as little as a £50 fine or a caution.


However, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Ken Macdonald QC, recently sent out a stern warning: “Those caught in possession of a knife in a public place and with no reasonable excuse can expect to be prosecuted,” he said.


“It is not acceptable to carry a knife for self-defence,” explained Sergeant Lewis.


He said there would be more knife arch operations to come in the Shepherd’s Bush area.  


Knife arches are part of Operation Blunt 2 which is a London-wide initiative aimed at removing weapons from streets and neighbourhoods, following a recent spate of knife attacks.


However, the introduction of arches has aroused some controversy, particularly the suggestion that they could become a regular feature at the school gate.  


Operation Blunt 2 was launched by Scotland Yard on 13th May, and by 29 May, 193 weapons had been seized, 210 people had been arrested and 4277 stop and searches had been made by police officers across the capital.


Yasmine Estaphanos


18 June 2008


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Information & related stories

Shepherd's Bush Green Safer

Neighbourhood Team

Tel: 020 8721 2056



If you know about a knife crime and you'd rather not speak to police, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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