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Police and volunteers find knife stashed in Nightingale Estate bin during park weapons sweep

PUBLISHED: 11:15 24 April 2018 | UPDATED: 18:14 05 June 2018

The community weapons sweep on the Nightingale Estate. Picture: Lucas Cumiskey

The community weapons sweep on the Nightingale Estate. Picture: Lucas Cumiskey

Archant

Police found a knife stashed in a bin during a sweep of green spaces on a Hackney estate on Saturday.

Hackney Downs police led their monthly community weapons search on the Nightingale Estate on Saturday, finding the hidden blade in the Olympus Court area.

There have been more than 50 homicides in London this year, including six suspected murders in Hackney. Most recently, 18-year-old Israel Ogunsola was stabbed to death on April 4 off Morning Lane.

Sgt Jones, who was leading the operation, urged the public to give his team information, which he said could save lives.

“People are getting stabbed and killed. The numbers speak for themselves and it is a concern,” he said.

The police were assisted by a team of dedicated volunteers; the search party donned blue latex gloves and rummaged through leaves and rubbish, looking for a glint where the sun bounced off a hidden blade.

Gang members have been known to stash their knives in parks so they can access them easily, while reducing the risk of being caught in possession of an illegal weapon.

Sgt Jones told the Gazette: “The knives that we recover aren’t normal run-of-the-mill kitchen knives.

“These are big knives with all sorts of serrated edges that make you think: how do you even carry that around? How do you contemplate even using such a tool?

Green co-leader Caroline Lucas and Hackney Green mayoral candidate Al Binnie-Lubbock with Sgt Jones at the community weapons sweep on the Nightingale Estate. Picture: Lucas CumiskeyGreen co-leader Caroline Lucas and Hackney Green mayoral candidate Al Binnie-Lubbock with Sgt Jones at the community weapons sweep on the Nightingale Estate. Picture: Lucas Cumiskey

“They are just horrible weapons.”

On this occasion an officer found a knife in a bin, buried beneath a pizza box and inside a drawstring sports bag. The quantity of weapons recovered in a sweep can vary greatly but police say they usually find more than they did on Saturday.

It could be that their rigorous and regular searches are reducing the amount of knives on the estate.

Alternatively, advertising the event in advance might have given people an opportunity to find a new hiding place.

Cllr Anna-Joy Rickard (Hackney Downs, Lab) said: “I think cuts in prevention services are contributing to the rise in violent crime.

“Austerity has been really hard for people and it does lead to disenfranchisement.”

Caroline Lucas, Green Party co-leader and MP for Brighton, was in Hackney canvassing for the local elections – and also came along to the weapons sweep. She told the Gazette: “I think it’s a whole costellation of issues coming together.

“For so many people a gang is a family becuase they have lost a sense of belonging, which is not to excuse the awfulness because it’s absolutely inexcusable.

“But we need to try and understand it.

“Services are being rolled back and families are becoming less cohesive and that’s a dangerous combination. You can’t keep cutting police and other services without there being an impact.”

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