The first knife bin in South Yorkshire has been installed outside the Lighthouse on Handley Street, Burngreave (in Spital Hill) to help rid the area of knives and other weapons and stop the violence associated with them.

The knife bin, funded by the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, was unveiled at a short ceremony on Wednesday, 25 April attended by the Commissioner, Superintendent Una Jennings, Barry Eldred, the High Sheriff, Michael Smith MBE from Word 4 Weapons, Burngreave Street Pastors, Rock Christian Centre Pastors Jon Watts and Paul Hunt, local police officers and residents.

The Rock Christian Centre and the South Yorkshire Christian Police Association applied for the funding which came form the commissioner’s small grants scheme.

Dr Alan Billings said: “We have been anxious for some time about the number of people who carry knives and the growth in the incidence of stabbings. In some instances this has led to horrific injuries and even death. This is a national as well as a South Yorkshire issue and Superintendent Jennings and I were recently invited to a round table meeting with the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, to discuss ways forward.

“People carry knives because they think it gives them protection, whereas in fact they are more likely to become a victim.

“Mothers have told me that they are concerned about their sons and daughters and would like to see more targeted stop and search by the police in a bid to rid their families of these knives.  I recently visited Burngreave with officers on a knife crime operation, and in a very short space of time, we found knives hidden in bushes.

“This knife bin will provide people with a safe place to dispose of any weapons or unwanted knives and make Sheffield a safer place.

“I am grateful to the Rock Christian Centre for allowing the bin to be placed outside their premises and for the concerns they have for the well-being of the area.”

Assistant Pastor Paul Hunt from Rock Christian Centre said: “In June 2017 there was an incident involving weapons close to the church offices and Foodbank site; my response was, ‘How can we help get these weapons off the streets of Burngreave and help people make better decisions for their future?’

“Tens of thousands of weapons have been deposited in ‘Word 4 Weapons’  bins in London and the Midlands and I approached them and asked them to see if we could have a weapons bin in Sheffield.

“I was very pleased when the Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billing agreed to fund the bin. Rock Christian Centre is very happy to host this bin in the Burngreave area. As a church we will work closely with Word 4 Weapons to ‘collect knives and save lives’, I hope and pray people will make the right decisions and get rid of their weapons, so that more lives aren’t lost.”

The knife bin operation is run by the Word 4 Weapons project, which aims to tackle gun and knife crime across the country by removing weapons from the streets. The funding of £4,460 provided the weapons bin and will pay for regular secure emptying and disposal of the knives.

Armed Criminality lead for South Yorkshire Police, Detective Superintendent Una Jennings, said: “I am so pleased The Rock Christian Centre put a bid in to the Commissioner for funding to enable the purchase and introduction of the knife bin in Burngreave.

“We are fully supportive of any initiative that may assist in the reduction of armed, violent crime in our city, and we will support the centre and the community of Burngreave in any way we can.

“We are committed in continuing to raise awareness of the grave and serious consequences that carrying a knife can have, which more often than not only ever leads to a devastating and destructive impact on an individual’s life!  Whether it’s carried for ‘protection’ or ‘status’, the fact remains you have a lethal and dangerous weapon in your possession.

“You could receive a life sentence behind bars if you fatally injure someone or, you could be the fatally injured person, and leave your family and loved ones distraught and heartbroken.

“Do you carry a knife, or does someone close to you carry one? Please consider the life changing impact it could have on yourself or on your loved one, and encourage them to make the use of the bin and discard their weapon.”