Chief Inspector Andy Colbourne
Chief Inspector Andy Colbourne

Harrogate Police taking positive action to curb knife crime by young people

16 February 2020

Over the last 2 months Harrogate Police has seen a general trend with an increase in knife crime related to young people.

Operation Disarm is a police operation underway to halt that increase in knife crime and reduce knife crime or the carrying of knives – it is already showing results.

  • Operation Disarm will run in Ripon and Harrogate
  • Started on 24 January and will remain ongoing
  • It’s about keeping young people safe through a focus on knife crime
  • Doesn’t mean Harrogate or Ripon is a high risk area for knife crime
  • A number of teams within North Yorkshire Police have come together, with a combined focus on youth knife crime

Chief Inspector Andy Colbourne, County Commander, said:

Whilst we have highlighted this as an area that requires our focus, members of the public can be reassured that we are doing everything we can to tackle knife crime across Harrogate and Ripon, and that this is a priority for our local policing teams.

We understand how much fear knife crime can cause in our communities and my intention is to respond appropriately.

Where we have information that a young person may be carrying a knife, we will act on it swiftly.

Whilst we will be robust with enforcement, a key element is to safeguard those individuals who may be at risk of offending and with our partners offer some educational support.

The operation has two key elements: Early intervention and prevention

Early Intervention

Information and intelligence is being used to enable a more targeted approach to areas where police suspect knife-related activity is taking place. Officers will be patrolling in uniform and plain clothes and will be using appropriate stop and search powers when there is clear justification.

Chief Inspector Andy Colbourne, County Commander, said:

The last thing that we want to do is criminalise a young person.

If a young person is found carrying a knife then it raises questions as to why they are doing that – it could be for bravado or for reasons that they are being bullied or intimidated, but we need to understand the reasons and provide help.


The police are working with local schools to take messages directly to the young people.

Chief Inspector Andy Colbourne, County Commander, said:

Our main focus is around safeguarding and we need to understand if they are being pushed or coerced into carrying a knife.

Parents also have a key part as they will know their children better than anyone else. If you notice a change in behaviour then tell us and we can help.

We will act on reports in the most appropriate way, that can include a visit from an officer to give some words of advice or perhaps a more robust conversation, if it is needed.

The operation uses resources from a number of police teams, but giving them a greater focus on youth knife crime.

Chief Inspector Andy Colbourne, County Commander, said:

Operation Disarm is a collective effort across Harrogate and Ripon Police. It draws on the community policing teams, response teams and operation expedite, that’s the county lines team.

The difference now is they are working with a collective focus on knfie crime.

Being intelligence-led, we have found high proportion of are searches have led to finding the possesion of a knife, so the operation is already achieving some good result.


Detective Inspector Simon Williamson, of North Yorkshire Police, said:

There are many reasons why a young person may carry a knife, with research suggesting that both ‘fashion’ and ‘fear’ play a role – fear, based on the misconception that others are carrying knives, and fashion whereby people post pictures of themselves with knives on social media. Some young people carrying knives may also be involved in county lines gangs and drug supply.

That’s why it’s so important that we work in partnership with young people. Knife crime in Harrogate and Ripon remains very rare – but one incident is one too many.

We have a responsibility to protect our young people, ensuring that they understand the clear dangers of carrying a knife or any other weapon.

If you have any concerns about a young person involved in knife crime, or would like to talk to the police about any other matter, please don’t hesitate to speak to an officer in person, or get in touch with us via 101.

1 Comment

  1. Tackling knife crime. North Yorkshire Police are fully aware that the teenagers involved in the recent stabbing in the town centre were known to them, and had already accessed NY prevention programmes. So why were those programmes unsuccessful? Because both NY social services, schools, and police failed to uphold their safeguarding responsibilities. NY police had opportunity to prevent that attack when they encountered the young people involved on the streets in the early hours but failed to return them to their homes. Harrogate may or may not have a serious knife problem – and all reports are that increasing numbers of young people are resorting to carrying weapons in our leafy town. But what it does undoubtably have is a signficant drugs problem, manifested in every school, and affecting huge numbers of under 18’s. we dont have is a comprehensive strategy to safeguard children from the county liners and dealers who seek to exploit children in our town. Focussing on the obvious problem of knife crime wont make any difference unless and until there is a drugs strategy that works to keep the dealers out and persuade teenagers that buying drugs wont make their lives better, different, or just more fun. Its not kids with problems that fund the dealers. It’s kids that want to have fun and have money to pay for it – and in Harrogate there are thousands of them, aged between 12 and 18 with enough cash to buy a £5 bag on a Saturday, of a couple of pills, or enough coke to share a few lines with their pals. In Harrogate, we have 13 year olds doing coke for fun. Whether they are carrying a knife or not is irrelevant. If those kids are targetted by the dealer – and they are – it’s only a matter of time before they are needing protection from their dealers, from themselves, and that is missing from the strategies deployed by police and social care in Harrogate. Tackle knife crime without a holistic strategy to address the factors that lead to knife crime – not a chance. Persuade the public that Harrogate is a safe pleasant town without problems, job done.

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