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Corby: Tackling knife crime in the town without a police station

In the past month, 24-year-old Jack has been handed a metre-long sword, a knuckle duster, pepper spray and an axe as well as a series of more common, but just as deadly, knives.

Jack is expecting his first baby this summer and helps care for his partner's mum - he's got enough on his plate - but he feels so worried by violent crime and knife carrying that, with a child of his own on the way, "he wanted to make the world a better place".

Jack, right, speaks to Allegra Stratton. Credit: ITV News

So that means he spends what spare time he has meeting strangers who feel that the weapon they have in their home is, so to speak, burning a hole. They may have carried this knife; they may even have used it... or they are concerned someone else might. For whatever reason, they have now decided to get rid of it safely.

With the large scale closure of police stations in places like Northamptonshire - towns like Corby lost its only one two years ago (though there are now plans to station two police officers in the area from this summer), Corby's nearest police station is a way out of town and difficult for people to get to if they don't drive. There are also no knife amnesty bins in the area. All of this means Jack says people are glad to be able to turn to groups like the Faz Amnesty.

It's an insecure exercise.

Jack says he felt had to do something. Credit: ITV News

Jack says he doesn't feel afraid when he meets people for the so-called weapons drop - he finds people are gentle and keen to get rid of these items that inflict so much harm.

He says that so far it has been white men of different backgrounds - the boy who gave him the axe was 17; the man who gave him what appeared to be a religious or ceremonial sword, was a father in his thirties who was worried about having the knife and the consequences for his young daughter.

But for Jack, it's the keeping of weapons in his house that is the most worrying part. His family isn't wild about him doing this so he keeps the smaller ones in a locked safe. The trouble is the long sword is way too huge for that, so it's wrapped in cling-film and when we meet Jack, poking out of both ends of a holdall.

Corby is now without a police station. Credit: ITV News

Jack set all of these knives out for us on the floor of a disused carwash round the back of Corby's local pub.

The whole community is still rocked by the fact that across the road there had been a stabbing a fortnight ago.

The landlord of that pub, the Cardigan Arms, Craig Haldane has been grappling with the steady scaling back of police presence for some years now.

Four years ago there was an armed robbery at his pub after closing time and he and his wife and 15-year-old daughter were dragged out of bed by four men in balaclavas. He is very emotional even now describing what happened.

The particular reason he is so worried is that the armed robbery took place when there was a police station open in Corby and with fewer police in the area now (even when police are sent back to Corby in May it looks to be less than there had been) - Craig says he feels the area is even more dangerous.

There is some evidence that in 2019, some of the measures taken by the government and the police may be keeping the levels of serious violence down, or at least preventing an increase.

For instance, in the most recent figures released on Thursday, the Metropolitan Police recorded a 1% increase in the number of offences involving knives, smaller than the increases seen previously (22% increase in the year ending March 2018; 15% in the year ending June 2018; 8% in year ending September 2018).

Sources from other large cities were not convinced they will be able to show a similar stabilisation.

But while these cities at least have police stations - albeit at reduced numbers from 2010 - places like Corby have been largely left to fend for themselves.