The Yorkshire Post can today reveal that offences involving knives have increased by 94 per cent across the region over the last eight years.

Crime Correspondent Lucy Leeson speaks to those families whose lives have been impacted by the devastating toll of knife crime.

‘My brother inspired #NoMoreKnives’

For Kayleigh Pepper, June 22, 2015 is the day her life changed forever.

At just 25 years of age, her brother Richard Pepper's life was cut tragically short when he was stabbed to death outside his home in Hull.

Richard Pepper, who was stabbed and killed in 2015.

Using her grief and determination to make sure no family will have to endure what she did, Kayleigh set up the RICH Foundation in her brother's memory.

The charity has helped support children who have lost loved ones and those going through difficult times and out of it the #NoMoreKnives campaign was born.

Kayleigh, 32, said: "We carry Richard with us every day in all that we do.

"We honour his memory, his life and everything he loved we cherish even more. We keep each other strong, even though most days we battle the grief to make it through the next day.

"Losing Richard is the hardest, most saddest part of telling someone he once existed, because we are then reminded that he is no longer here.

"If we make a difference to one person's life then the campaign will have been worth it."

“Whilst we will never recover from this, Richard gave us so many memories and filled our lives with love, no one can ever replace.

"The one thing that keeps me going is keeping Richard's memory alive.

"Since creating the charity, I have had the most amazing support and have met some amazing people on this journey.

"If we make a difference to one person's life then the campaign will have been worth it."

Working together with Humberside Police and Hull pastor Mo Timbo, the campaign was launched in April 2017 to rid Hull's streets of knives and educate young people about the danger of carrying weapons.

Kayleigh Pepper with Yorkshire police on the #NoMoreKnives tour

In just over one year, thousands of secondary school children witnessed history being made as the #NoMoreKnives tour visited secondary school's across the city with the important message that knives cost lives.

Children, and their teachers, were moved to tears hearing Kayleigh's own tragic story, combined with hard hitting presentations from PC Christian Sewell and PCSO Richard Whelan, and Mo Timbo - who himself was embroiled in knife crime as a teenager and saw his best friend killed.

All this was combined with musical performance from bands across the country, all wanting to help spread a vital message to future generations.

The first phase of the campaign culminated in a huge anti-knife crime concert held at the Bonus Arena in Hull, with bands from across the country performing. It was also backed by Girls Aloud singer Nadine Coyle.

Kayleigh speaking on the #NoMoreKnives tour

In November last year, the campaign was given a funding boost by Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner Keith Hunter when it was announced it would receive a portion of £336,500.

There was further success in February this year, when after a lot of hard work by the #NoMoreKnives team, the Knife Angel - the National Monument Against Violence and Aggression arrived in Queen's Gardens in Hull.

The city was only the second place to have the 27ft angel, which was created by sculptor Alfie Bradley and made up of 100,000 blades handed in to police stations in a national knife amnesty.

Its permanent home is at the British Ironwork Centre in Staffordshire.

"I know the team we have is special, but I never expected to take the campaign so far"

Just this month the campaign has launched its second phase which will see the #NoMoreKnives tour visit 55 secondary schools and pupil referral units across the East Riding, North East Lincolnshire and North Lincolnshire by the end of January next year.

Kayleigh said: "Our project started in Hull, but with the support of the police and crime commissioner's office it has allowed us to take it across the whole of the Humberside Police force area.

"We have worked incredibly hard to make a difference. I know the team we have is special, but I never expected to take the campaign so far, but we have and we have done so successfully.

"It has been a privilege to work alongside everybody and I am forever grateful to everyone I work with and for everything they do for me and my family in memory of my beautiful brother."

‘Incidents of knife crime are a daily occurrence in Yorkshire’

For police officers across Yorkshire, responding to knife crime incidents has become a daily occurrence.

Detective Superintendent Chris Gibson, is West Yorkshire Police's lead for knife crime.

In the first three months of 2019 across West Yorkshire, there have been three homicides involving knives, one attempted murder and 137 assaults with intent to injure - all using knives.

"These incidents can be very impactive and have a lasting effect on our officers."
Detective Superintendent Chris Gibson

A Freedom of Information Request by the Yorkshire Post has also revealed that between January 1, 2019 and March 31, 2019 there were 220 robberies involving knives, 134 threats to kill involving knives and 13 rapes where knives were used.

Det Supt Gibson said: "Any incident we attend involving knife crime, our main focus is to look after the victim and to get them the treatment they need.

Alfie Bradley speaking about his "Knife Angel" sculpture in Hull

"These incidents can be very impactive and have a lasting effect on our officers.

"They have witnessed first hand the devastation knife crime can cause. They are the ones who have visited crime scenes and seen the impact it has on families that have lost loved ones.

Additional police officers have been deployed to knife crime hotspots across West Yorkshire, including Leeds and Kirklees, in a bid to provide targeted patrols and reassurance to the public.

Det Supt Gibson said: "We have recently been given a £4 million grant from the Government to tackle serious and violent crime.

"As part of this, we now have additional officers working every day, providing high visibility and reassurance to people in violent crime hotspots.

"Our analysis currently shows that Leeds and Kirklees are the two areas where the force's highest incidents of violent crime are.

"We also have additional officers patrolling the night time economy - again this is to act as a reassurance to the public."

The force saw a 20 per cent increase in knife crime in the last 12 months to December 2018, compared to the previous year.

"Knife Angel," a sculpture by Alfie Bradley

In total, there were 2,715 offences involving knives - including eight homicides and eight attempted murders.

Det Supt Gibson says although there has been an increase in actual knife crime offences, the force's recording of offences has got better.

He said: "We have made changes to the how we record serious and violent crime and we have been graded as outstanding by HMICFRS for our crime recording so we know we are getting the most accurate reports we can.

"The number of people aged under 18 reported to be in possession of articles with a blade or point, or a knife has increased."
Det Supt Gibson

"However, some of the increase is quite simply down to the fact that there has been an increase, in particular in young people and young adults carrying knives. We need them to know that carrying a knife is definitely not the answer."

The detective superintendent says working with key partners to educate young people on the dangers of carrying knives is vital in the fight against knife crime.

He said: "Prevention and enforcement is key.

"Tackling knife crime requires everyone to work together through a variety of approaches, from school inputs and awareness campaigns, to weapons surrenders which are always successful in taking weapons out of circulation, to actively targeting offenders.

"The number of people aged under 18 reported to be in possession of articles with a blade or point, or a knife has increased.

"Since this increase West Yorkshire Police have placed dedicated Safer Schools Officers who work in partnership with secondary schools across the county.

"As part of their role, Safer Schools Officers speak to young people about the dangers of carrying a knife/bladed instrument and the potential consequences."

The human cost of knife crime on Yorkshire’s streets

In 2018 a total of 21 people from across Yorkshire lost their lives when they became victims of knife crime.

They include a 15-year-old boy who was stabbed to death with the knife he was carrying, a young mother, and a helpless pensioner who was stabbed more than 70 times during a burglary at her own home.

Here the Yorkshire Post takes a look back at some of the devastating crimes in the last 18 months and pays tribute to the victims of knife crime.

Jamie Brown, 17

Jamie Brown was fatally stabbed in the stomach following a Halloween party in East Park Road, Halifax on October 27, last year.

A 17-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was found guilty of his murder following a trial earlier this year. Two other youths - one aged 15 and the other aged 17 - were also found guilty of violent disorder.

A 16-year-old male had already pleaded guilty to wounding with intent and violent disorder in relation to the incident and, during the trial, another 17-year-old pleaded guilty to violent disorder.

The teenagers will be sentenced at Leeds Crown Court on July 12.

Sam Baker, 15

Sam Baker was stabbed to death in Lowedges Road, Lowedges, Sheffield, with a knife he had been carrying himself on May 24, last year. His football coach Corey Hill described him as a "happy-go-lucky kid" who was a "hardworking player".

A 15-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted manslaughter.

He was jailed for two years and eight months.

Ryan Jowle, 19

Ryan Jowle was stabbed to death in Tannery Close, Woodhouse, in a row over drug territory on May 22, 2018.

Frank Mvila Kiongaze, 23, of Morland Road, Gleadless, was jailed for 12 years and seven months after admitting manslaughter.

Sheffield Crown Court heard that the two men struggled for control of a knife, which had been probably been Mr Jowle’s, with both seriously injured.

Kavan Brissett, 21

Kavan Brissett was attacked in an alleyway off Langset Walk, Uppperthorpe, on August 14. No one has been charged with his murder. Mr Brissett's family said they still remained in "shock and dismay" and wanted "justice". "Our hearts will never heal, but getting justice for Kavan would make us sleep a little easier," they said in a statement.

"Please, we would ask that anyone with any information to come forward and allow us to give Kavan the dignity of justice. "All information is of importance, no matter how small it may seem to you, it may help us solve this puzzle for our boy. Thank you."

Laura Huteson, 21

Hull mum Laura Huteson died from a single stab wound to the neck by her killer Jason Gaskell. Gaskell, 24, deliberately held a knife to Laura's neck while they were having sex at his home in Orchard Park, Hull, on February 27, 2018.

Gaskell, 24, was jailed for six years after he pleaded guilty to gross negligence and manslaughter. Sentencing Gaskell, Judge Jeremy Richardson QC said the 24-year-old had killed Laura while "indulging in acutely dangerous sexual conduct involving a knife" and that, although consensual, it was “bizarre and violent sado-masochistic sexual activity”. He said: "You knew that what you were doing was acutely dangerous. "You paid a terrible price. The price paid by Laura Huteson was infinitely greater. She is dead."

Fahim Hersi, 22

Fahim Hersi was killed in an attack outside Cineworld on the Valley Centertainment complex in Attercliffe, Sheffield on September 21, last year.

His killer has not yet been found.

Jarvin Blake, 22

Father-of-three Jarvin Blake was fatally stabbed in the chest in broad daylight in Brackley Street, Sheffield on March 8, last year. Despite the efforts of members of the public and paramedics at the scene he died in hospital a short time later. Jarvin was killed as a result of a turf war over drugs.

Caine Gray, 27, of Treetown Crescent, Treeton, Rotherham, was found guilty of the same offence and also jailed for life. He was ordered to serve a minimum of 19 years.

Sheffield men Josiah Foster, 26, of Wordsworth Crescent, Parson Cross and Devon Walker, 25, of Ellesmere Road North, Burngreave, were both found guilty of manslaughter and jailed for 15 years each. Lewis Barker, 27, of North Hill Road, Southey Green, Sheffield, pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to life and ordered to serve a minimum of 23 years behind bars.

Paige Gibson, 23

Paige Gibson died in hospital after she was found stabbed in Cumberland Close, Halifax, in the early hours of June 7. The 23-year-old was described by friends as "lovely and bubbly".

A fundraising page was set up in her memory by friends to give her "the best send-off ever" at her funeral. A 16-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has been charged with the murder. He has been remanded in youth custody and will appear at Bradford Crown Court on July 10.

Poppy Devey Waterhouse, 24

Poppy Devey Waterhouse was just 24 when she was murdered by the man that she loved and trusted, Joe Atkinson. The pair had been together for three years by late 2018, but had broken up at the request of Miss Devey Waterhouse, an analyst for William Hill, in October.

He attacked her at the flat they shared in Leeds on December 14, last year.

Prodigiously gifted Poppy suffered more than 100 injuries, with over 49 knife wounds including 23 to her head and neck. Atkinson, 25, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 15 years, after pleading guilty to murdering Poppy in an attack "fuelled by jealousy".

Poppy's family described her as "beautiful and brilliant" and Leeds Crown Court heard how she was the only person in William Hill's history to be given a verdict of 'remarkable' at a job appraisal during her first year.

Gareth Atkinson, 25

Gareth Atkinson died from a single stab wound to the neck following a long-standing dispute with Ashley King over two women. Police were called to the communal flats area in Bentley Street, Huddersfield at around 11pm on May 8, last year, where Gareth was found fatally injured.

King, 29, fled the scene and hid at a house, until he was arrested by police two days later. The 29-year-old was found guilty of Gareth's murder following a 10-day trial at Leeds Crown Court and sentenced to 17 years in prison. In a statement, Gareth's family said: "As a result of the actions of one individual, our family’s lives dramatically changed.

“Our loss is immense and is also not only felt by ‘us’ Gaz’s closest relatives, but also by the many friends and colleagues he had. The support of Gaz’s many friends has been extremely comforting to us and we wish to thank them all for their continued love and support which has and continues to be invaluable.

“The loss of Gaz is forever, that is our sentence and there isn’t a day that passes that we don’t miss and long for his company."

Maksym Polomka, 30

Maksym Polomka, 30, was stabbed to death in the street during a drunken fight at a Christmas Day party in Beeston, last year.

He died in the early hours of the morning after the alleged attack in which he suffered multiple wounds to his head, neck and body.

Leeds Crown Court heard how the 30-year-old suffered fatal injuries when violence erupted at the house in Beeston after he argued with his girlfriend.

Tomasz Dybicz, 29, and Pawel Stragowski, 28, pleaded not guilty to Maksym's murder and are currently on trial at Leeds Crown Court.

Gavin Singleton, 31

Gavin Singleton was stabbed to death in an attack in Hillsborough, last September.

His killer Danny Trotter, 24, of no fixed abode, was found guilty of his murder and locked up for a minimum of 22 years.

St John Lewis, 47

St John Lewis died following an incident in Broadlea Terrace, Bramley on Tuesday, February 26. His father described him as a gentleman who was "always very keen to help people".

Mr Lewis worked as a chef at a pizza takeaway in Leeds and doted on his three dogs, Charlie, Delta and Luna. Speaking after his son's death, he said: "He was such a nice guy and I loved him so much."

Dean Anthony Dagless, of Broadlea Terrace, Bramley, has been charged with the murder of Mr Lewis. He pleaded not guilty to murder and possession of an offensive weapon. A trial date has been set to take place on July 8 at Leeds Crown Court.

Glenn Boardman, 59

Glenn Boardman was stabbed to death by his neighbour in an attack last June.

Michael Goddard, 51, of Steven Close, Chapeltown, Sheffield, was jailed for a minimum of 24 years after being convicted of his murder.

Jill Hibberd, 73

Jill Hibberd was stabbed 70 times in her home in Roy Kilner Way, Wombwell, Barnsley, during a burglary on May 30, last year.

Lee Fueloep, 40, was jailed for life for her murder and ordered to serve a minimum of 35 years behind bars.

‘One death is one too many’

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has revealed he is "deeply concerned" about knife crime across Yorkshire following a 94 per cent increase in offences in the last eight years.

In an exclusive interview with The Yorkshire Post, the Home Secretary said he is doing everything in his power to tackle the "senseless violence that is traumatising communities and claiming too many young lives".

Sajid Javid

This includes investing an additional £67 million which will be shared between the four Yorkshire police forces and will see nearly 370 more police officers recruited to the front line to fight knife crime.

This is on top of an extra £12m shared between West Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Police specifically to tackle violent crime.

The Home Secretary's comments come as it was revealed there has been a 94 per cent increase across Yorkshire in the number of offences involving a knife compared to figures from 2011.

Latest figures also revealed that across Yorkshire and the Humber, there were 4,597 serious offences involving a knife in the 12 months to December 2018.

There were also 21 homicides and 34 attempted murders - all involving knives.

"It's crucial we all work together to do everything we can to tackle knife crime and serious violence. "
Sajid Javid

Mr Javid said: "One death due to knife crime is one too many.

"Whenever I see statistics like this, I think of the victims and families who have had their lives changed forever.

"This is why a public health approach is needed to tackle this problem. It will see police officers, education partners, local authorities and health care professionals have a new legal duty to take action and prevent violent crime. This statutory duty would make serious violence a top priority for all key partners, ensuring that all agencies are working together to prevent young people being caught in the criminal cycle.

"It's crucial we all work together to do everything we can to tackle knife crime and serious violence. "

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Mr Javid denied claims that the focus on tackling knife crime was just aimed at the capital.

He said: "I am deeply concerned about knife crime, not just in the capital, but across the UK, including across Yorkshire and the Humber, and I've been clear I'll do everything in my power to tackle the senseless violence that is traumatising communities and claiming too many young lives.

"The police already have a range of measures they are using to keep our streets safe, but there is more we can do to help them in this battle.

"The recent police funding settlement has increased funding by over £1 billion in 2019/20, including council tax and money to tackle serious violence.

"From this, the four police forces in the Yorkshire and Humber region are benefiting from an increase of nearly £67 million, which will see nearly 370 more police officers recruited to the front line fighting crime in the area."

Mr Javid also believes education has a vital role to play in reducing knife crime.

Earlier this month, the Government introduced new lesson plans to help teachers challenge myths about the realities of carrying knives before the summer holidays. This followed on from the launch of the #knifefree campaign.

"I’m supportive of any project working to tackle knife crime at a local level."
Sajid Javid

Mr Javid said: "The campaign is discouraging young people from carrying knives and inspiring them to pursue positive alternatives by sharing real-life stories. We are also giving £220m to early intervention projects to support young people at a local level.

"I’m supportive of any project working to tackle knife crime at a local level. Our Serious Violence Strategy places a strong emphasis on early intervention to help young people develop the skills and resilience to live happy and productive lives away from violence.

"The Early Intervention Youth Fund of £22 million is already supporting 29 projects in England and Wales, helping to protect young people from being drawn into violence. I have also launched a £200 million Youth Endowment Fund to support interventions and the future of this country’s most vulnerable youngsters.

"In addition, this year’s local government finance settlement includes extra funding for local services, supporting some of our most vulnerable groups."

The human cost of knife crime was only put under the spotlight once more this weekend after heavily pregnant postal worker Kelly Mary Fauvrelle became the 65th person to lose their life to violence so far in London this year.

The 26-year-old was one of four to killed in the capital over the weekend.

And as her tiny infant son continues his battle for life another family has seen their world torn apart.

Yet to her loved ones she is not just another statistic. 

Read more on knife crime from the Yorkshire Post:

'I'm deeply concerned about knife crime across Yorkshire' - admits Home Secretary Sajid Javid

The true extent of West Yorkshire's knife crime

Drug and gun crime top of agenda for Sheffield's chief politician

Louise Haigh: UK has never seen a knife crime epidemic like this