Steep rise in number of people caught with knives in Sunderland as hundreds of weapon possession offences recorded in the city

Connor Brown.
Connor Brown.
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The number of people caught carrying knives and other weapons in Sunderland has rocketed by more than a quarter in just 12 months.

The latest police recorded crime statistics showed there were 299 weapon possession offences last year according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) data.

Kerrie Katopodis, one of the bar bosses who has put in extra safety measures, with some of her security staff outside House of Diamonds in South Shields. Picture: Kevin Ho.

Kerrie Katopodis, one of the bar bosses who has put in extra safety measures, with some of her security staff outside House of Diamonds in South Shields. Picture: Kevin Ho.

The issue of knife crime was brought to the fore in Sunderland earlier this year as the city mourned the loss of GP reception team member Connor Brown after he died following a stab attack.

The 18-year-old amateur boxer had been in the city centre when he was fatally injured in a lane at the rear of The Borough pub.

Related: Nightclub owner’s bid to keep public safe and ‘prevent knife crime’ after devastating murder of teenager Connor Brown

As his friends and family honoured the former Sandhill Academy student, bars in his home city upped their security, with some bringing in airport-style security and additional checks and sending their staff on additional first aid training to deal with wounds.

Related: Connor Brown murder: Airport-style metal detector introduced at Sunderland city centre nightclub following tragic death of teenager

The statistics can include hand guns, knives and even corrosive acid.

Northumbria Police's Head of Crime, Chief Superintendent Lisa Orchard.

Northumbria Police's Head of Crime, Chief Superintendent Lisa Orchard.

The figure is up 27% on 2017, when 235 incidents were recorded.

The rise was reflected nationally, across England and Wales there was a 21% increase in offences with knives or sharp objects.

Read more: Sunderland door staff recognised for work to protect vulnerable people in city

Northumbria Police’s head of crime, Chief Superintendent Lisa Orchard, said: “First and foremost, I want to reassure the public that we are committed to keeping our communities safe.

“As a force, we take a very strong stance on violent crime and our area continues to experience low levels compared to other big cities across the country.

“We will continue to work with a range of partners to ensure we are pro-actively tackling such issues.

“Here in Northumbria this includes working with licensees and visiting schools and colleges to educate youngsters about a range of topics including the dangers of knife crime.

“Our officers also have the power to stop and search individuals believed to be carrying a knife or weapon and anyone found doing so will be arrested and positive action taken.

“I would urge anybody who has any information about people going out with a weapon to come forward. Share that information with police, so we can act now.”

Overall, police recorded crime in Wearside increased in 2018.

Over the period, 33,284 crimes were recorded, up by 6% on 2016-17.

That means there is a crime for at least one in every 10 residents in Sunderland, well above average for England and Wales.

There were 1,286 residential burglaries reported in Sunderland.

Due to a change in how the ONS categorises burglaries, the localised figure cannot be compared with other years.

There have been four homicides, which are murders or manslaughters.

There were five cases of death or injury by dangerous driving.

Criminal damage in Sunderland, which includes arson and vandalising cars and houses, has gone up, from 4,796 incidents in 2017, to 4,812 in the latest figures.

While violence with injury, which includes assault, GBH and wounding, has risen, this could be due to improved police recording.

Similarly sexual offences are hard to judge as many more victims are now coming forward due to a series of high-profile cases.

In Sunderland, there were 934 incidents recorded in 2018, a 7% rise on the previous year, when 876 crimes were reported.

There were also 3,222 cases of stalking and harassment reported over the same period.

Read more: Police make more than 300 arrests for stalking-related offences in just one year

Across England and Wales, the number of recorded homicides rose by 6%, the highest level in a decade, with that figure excluding people who died in terror attacks.

Theft, one of the most high volume crimes, decreased by 10%.

Drugs-related offences rose by 12%.

* Leighton Barrass, 20, of Hartside Square, and Ally Gordon, 19, of Polmuir Road, both Sunderland, are both charged with the murder of Connor.

At their last appearance at Newcastle Crown Court, Barrass pleaded not guilty to murder, while Gordon was not asked to enter a plea.

A trial is due to take place on July 2, with a pre-trial hearing on May 17.

Both men have been remanded in custody.