Police given new stop and search powers in Fishponds after stabbings

POLICE have been given “enhanced stop and search powers” in Fishponds and Eastville after an increase in serious violence.

A teenager was stabbed to death in Easton and another man stabbed in Eastville yesterday, while two other teenagers were injured elsewhere in the city earlier this month.

In January two teenagers, 16-year-old Max Dixon and 15-year-old Mason Rist, were killed in Knowle West and in June last year, 19-year-old Eddie Kinuthia was killed in St Paul’s.

Police say they are “launching a new proactive operation dedicated to tackling and disrupting serious violence and knife crime involving young people”.

They have drawn up three zones which have been designated “hotspots” where officers have extra powers under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act from 5pm today, for an initial 24 hours, which can be extended for a further 24 hours if necessary.

A spokesperson said: “This means officers in uniform can stop and search anyone in a designated area – in this case Bristol city centre, St Pauls, Easton, Temple and Fishponds – without needing reasonable grounds for suspicion because of the recent serious violence.”   

‘This needs to stop’

Temporary assistant chief constable Peter Warren said: “Children and young people are being seriously injured and killed on the streets of Bristol and this needs to stop.

“We are extremely concerned about the frequency of serious violence incidents involving young people in the city, many of which involve knives.

“Knife crime is a national problem and not something policing can solve on its own but we recognise there is an ongoing issue in our city which we need to put significant resources into to address.

“The new operation will involve officers and specialist police staff from across the force, including unformed officers, detectives, and intelligence analysts.

Parts of Fishponds and Eastville are included in Zone 3 of the area where police have extra stop and search powers

“Their remit will be to identify those most at risk of carrying knives and becoming involved in serious violence and using their powers to disrupt them and prevent them from causing anyone else serious harm.

“They will also look to identify those who may potentially be vulnerable and at risk of becoming victims and ensuring they are appropriately safeguarding.”

Powers include removal of masks

Mr Warren said the people who carried out the fatal attack in Rawnsley Park, off Stapleton Road near Easton Way, wore masks and the new powers allow officers to ask people who are within designated areas of the city to remove masks, “without having to have reasonable grounds for suspicion they may be involved in criminality”.

He said: “We do not use this power often and we certainly don’t make the decision to use it lightly. We understand people may have concerns about the use of these powers which is why we consulted with the city’s mayor and other community leaders before making the decision to authorise their use.

“Officers across the city will continue to respond to any incidents of serious violence which occur while we, together with our partners, work to prevent incidents from happening in the first place.

“This new operation’s focus will be on tackling immediate problems such as those we’re sadly seeing in Bristol, but it is not a long term solution.

“Working together with our colleagues in the Violence Reduction Partnership, including local authorities, education, health and social care, we are committed to understanding and addressing the root causes of serious violence, diverting young people away from becoming involved in criminality and educating them on the dangers of knife crime in particular.”

Police have called on anyone with information about the fatal stabbing in Rawnsley Park to call 101 and quote crime reference number 5224 039 827, or give information online via the Major Incident Public Portal at mipp.police.uk/operation/5224C46-PO1.

Anyone with information about the Eastville incident, near the Maytrees building in Fishponds Road at around 4.40pm yesterday, should quote the reference number 5224 039 773.