I recently went to Bartholomew Street in the Highfields Area of Leicester to view the scene of two knife murders, and to discuss with locals what can be done about the rising tide of knife crime in the City.
The most recent killing was that of Hassan Jama, 19, who was killed in the early hours of 18 July 2020 by the junction with Myrtle Road. The police were called and arrived promptly, at about 2:30am. They launched an immediate search and made an arrest before dawn. Ishaq Hassanjee, aged 18, has now been charged with the murder and at least one other arrest has been made. The case is still sub judice so I can write no more.
The earlier killing was that of Suvekshya Burathoki in a "brutal, violent murder" at her home in Bartholomew Street, Leicester, on 8 October 2019. At a trial in February 2020 her former partner, Hafiz Sharifi was found guilty of the savage attack.
Sentencing Sharifi to a minimum of 17 years, Judge Spencer said: "Amongst the many ugly features of this case is that this brutal killing of their mother was witnessed by her two sons. You deprived three children, one of them your own daughter, of a mother and you deprived the same daughter of a father for the formative years of her life."
For a single street in Leicester to have been the scene of two brutal knife murders is extraordinary, and highlights the danger of knife crime in the City. Yet, they are both very different attacks. The killing of Hassan Jama seems to have been an attack of one young man on another late at night in the street, while the other was the killing of a woman by her former partner – a stark demonstration of just how deadly “domestic abuse” can become.
I spoke to several local residents, both those who had invited me and passersby. Nobody wanted to go on the record with their views, but clearly this is a deeply alarming problem in the Highfields Area. The police really need to get on top of violent street crime.
There is no easy answer to knife crime, nor to domestic violence. But that does not mean that we should not try, and start now for this is an urgent problem that cannot be put off.
Knife crime and other serious violence is a major factor in the fear of crime in our communities. The police must not only tackle this problem, but be seen to do so to reduce crime and the fear of crime.
I want to see our local police:
- Continue with the #LivesnotKnives campaign;
- Work with criminal justice partners to ensure that violent criminals are caught, convicted and properly punished.
- Use co-operation with schools to educate youngsters out of knife crime;
- Work with partner bodies who turn youngsters away from violence and serious crime;
- Ensure that an effective Violence Prevention Strategy is in place and is regularly reviewed for effectiveness;
- Deliver responses to tackle drug and alcohol misuse, turning people away from activities that lead to violence;
- Target problem areas to disrupt the activities of those who carry knives or are responsible for violent crime.
While we do not yet know the motives behind the murder of Hassan Jama, gangs and organised crime have been a factor in some other knife attacks in Leicester.
The advent of County Lines drug networks has brought gangs and organised crime to new areas. Our objective must be to make sure that crime does not pay – by convicting the criminals and disrupting their activities. Continued co-operation with the National Crime Squad [NCS] and East Midlands Special Operations Unit [EMSOU] is essential. I would also like to see our police force:
- Ensure good communications between public and police at a local level so that the police know where the problems are, and so that the public know what the police are doing about them;
- Build on the successful Neighbourhood Policing model to ensure that local police have the training and equipment that they need to tackle ASB;
- Target places with a particular ASB problem and disrupt the activity with randomised police visits and other tactics;
- Provide adequate support to Neighbourhood Watch schemes to boost their ability to help tackle ASB;
- Look at establishing a Drug & Vice Squad;
- Ensure that intelligence is shared with partners such as licensing authorities, housing bodies, and environmental health in each Neighbourhood Policing Area to ensure a co-ordinated response and firm action;
- Maintain an enhanced database that is shared with partner organisations to ensure co-ordinated responses to patterns of criminal behaviour and target peak times and problems areas;
- Ensure that those responsible are prosecuted and punished whenever possible.
We do know the motive of the killing of Suvekshya Burathoki. Domestic Abuse ruins lives and can sometimes be fatal but is very often treated as a hidden issue.
If I am elected to be Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicestershire and Rutland I will:
- Continually monitor the police response to domestic abuse to ensure continued best practice in this area;
- Use targeted help, commissioned services and working with our partners to help victims and their families feel safe, cope and recover.
- Work with schools and other bodies to ensure that children and young people affected by domestic abuse are informed about healthy relationships;
- Provide safe ways for victims to report domestic abuse and gain support;
- Tackle offending behaviour through robust behaviour-change programmes – including substance abuse, which is a factor in over 60% of cases – and prosecutions as appropriate.
Overall, I want to see the police more active and more visible in our communities to follow a proactive strategy of community cohesion policing. As Sir Robert Peel said when he established the modern police forces "The public are the police and the police are the public". Read more about the Peelian Principles of Policing HERE.
You can have your say on improving policing in our area by taking my survey on local crime HERE.
Learn more about my campaign in your area by using my interactive map of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland HERE.