Police will arm themselves with metal detectors in a bid to tackle a sharp rise in knife crime in the West Midlands.
It’s the first time officers have been issued with ‘wands’ as part of plans to use stop and search powers to take deadly weapons off the street.
West Midlands Police will be handed eighty knife wands following a recent Home Office report that showed the region has the highest level of knife crime outside London.
And half of all response cars will also carry the devices to make it more difficult for criminals to conceal weapons.
PC Waqass Choudry with one of the metal detector wands. Police will arm themselves with the devices in a bid to tackle a sharp rise in knife crime
Chief Superintendent Chris Todd said: ‘Response teams across the force region will benefit but there will be a focus on those operating in higher knife crime areas.
‘This investment means that nearly half of all our response cars will now carry knife wands.
‘It’s a move that’s been taken as part of our wider work to tackle knife crime and to make it more difficult for people to conceal weapons.
‘The wands are effective stop and search tools and less intrusive for suspects.
‘They are not a replacement for a thorough personal search of suspects as they will only detect metallic weapons.’
Handheld metal detectors are already used in West Midlands Police custody blocks when booking in detainees and also during dedicated operations but this is the first time units will be equipped with the wands.
It’s the first time response officers have been issued with ‘wands’ as part of plans to use stop and search powers – in an effort to take deadly weapons off the street
The £8,000 investment is from the force’s Asset Recovery Fund, money which has been seized by police from criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson, said: ‘Sadly, knife crime has increased by 75 per cent since 2012. It means police are spending more and more time tackling the problem.
‘As such, it is important hard working officers have the tools to do the job we expect of them.
‘That is why I’m fully behind the decision to purchase these knife wands using money seized from criminals. These knife wands will help the police to keep us all safe.’
In April the Home Office published figures that showed the number of knife crimes had risen by more than in the area covered by West Midlands Police
In April the Home Office published figures that showed the number of knife crimes had risen by more than in the area covered by West Midlands Police.
It comes as recent figures show that knife crime in Birmingham is at its highest in eight years – up 19 per cent since 2017.
And the West Midlands has seen the biggest increase in knife crime of any part of the country outside London, with a total of 52,176 crimes recorded in 2017.
Meanwhile, knife possession offences have also rocketed by 159 per cent, according to figures from police.