Weapons amnesty proposed for Ballarat after recent knife crime

BALLARAT needs to send a strong message that carrying knives won’t be tolerated after multiple incidents during the past three months. 

The call comes from City of Ballarat community safety committee chairman Des Hudson, who said Ballarat was a safe city, however recent crimes involving knives in public places were concerning.

Cr Hudson said it was important to draw attention to the issue so it did not become a bigger problem.

“It is certainly concerning when there has been, in recent time, a willingness to carry knives,” he said. 

“It is something Ballarat hasn’t seen but it is concerning that it is starting to creep in.”

Cr Hudson commended Victoria Police for quickly bringing alleged offenders before the courts. 

In an attempt to combat knife-related crime, youth worker Les Twentyman has called on the city to enact a knife exchange program. 

Speaking to The Courier yesterday Mr Twentyman said he had run similar programs in Melbourne where weapons were handed in in return for movie tickets and other rewards. 

He said the program resulted in one weapon being handed in nearly every two minutes. 

Cr Hudson said Ballarat did not yet need a knife exchange, but a knife amnesty could be considered.

A strong part of the program would be education, discussing the dangers of carrying a weapon, according to Mr Twentyman, who said it needed to be questioned why people were carrying knives in the first place. 

“People think carrying a knife is like carrying a mobile phone,” he said. 

“It (the knife exchange) gets out on the front foot and says we as a community don’t want our community to be armed.”

Mr Twentyman said it was important to get schools and football clubs involved in the education element to have greatest effect. 

Acting Inspector Neale Robinson said Victoria Police had previously held statewide and local weapons amnesties, but anyone could attend their local police station at any time to discuss surrendering weapons. 

“Anyone who chooses to carry a knife or other weapon immediately puts themselves in danger of using it,” he said. 

“Situations may escalate beyond their control and the outcomes can be far more serious where a weapon is involved."

matthew.dixon@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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