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Statement on increased police presence in Stevenage

23 Mar 2019

We are aware of a number of posts on social media suggesting that a stabbing occurred in Stevenage overnight and that this was the cause of the large police presence in the town.

These posts have understandably caused concern within the community however we can confirm that we have not received any reports of a stabbing and we are not dealing with any incidents of this nature.

However, we did receive a number of calls reporting that there were people seen in the possession of knives in the town.

Officers immediately attended the locations, supported by the Armed Policing Unit, the Dog Unit and the National Police Air Service helicopter but despite thorough area searches, no suspects were located.

Further enquiries are being carried out today and we would like to reassure the community that increased high-visibility patrols will be conducted and further resources allocated to the town this evening.

Between 11pm yesterday and 8am this morning, authorisation for a Section 60 stop and search notice was given for the whole of Stevenage. This means anyone in the town could be searched for weapons without a police officer having reasonable grounds for each person searched.

Chief Inspector Lynda Coates said: “Section 60 powers are being used to target people we believe to be involved in criminality and are a way for us to disrupt crime and keep the public safe.

“During the course of the nine hours it was in place, a number of searches were carried out and a combat knife was seized.

“A Section 60 temporarily gives additional powers to police officers, which allow them to stop and search anyone in a particular area for a set period of time without the officers requiring reasonable grounds to do so. They are different to the stop and search powers they already have, which can be used at any time and – when used – do require reasonable grounds.

“There are serious consequences if you choose to carry a knife. At best you will face a possible custodial sentence and criminal record, which could affect your job prospects in later life. At worst, you could cause yourself or another person serious injury – or even death. Please think before you carry a knife.”

Under the Home Office’s best use of stop and search scheme we will, where practicable, publicise section 60s to the public.

Find out more about Section 60s here: http://socsi.in/WRv6z

If you have any information about the incidents in Stevenage last night, please report it online at http://socsi.in/BUd6m, speak to a Force Communications Room operator via online web chat or call the non-emergency number 101, quoting ISR 655 of March 22.

If you witness someone carrying a knife or you believe there is danger to life, always dial 999.

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