A CLAMPDOWN on knife crime in Southend has led to 27 per cent fewer offences being reported.

Police in the town launched an operation in June, after figures released earlier in the year, showed a 31.8 per cent increase in offences involving weapons, mostly knives.

The increase reported between March 2013 and February this year was significantly greater than that in any other Essex police district.

Countywide, recorded crime involving weapons also increased, but only by 8.3 per cent.

However, the latest figures – for the period August 2013 to July 2014 – saw 195 crimes involving knives recorded in Southend – 72 fewer than for the same period the year before, a 27 per cent reduction.

Violent offences where a knife was used, as opposed to simply being shown also reduced, by 29 per cent.

Police recorded a 13 per cent increase in the number of possession offences – but say this was because they were actively looking for weapons.

The town’s police commander, Chief Insp Simon Anslow, said: “A proportion will undoubtedly be down to our proactive policing.

“I am not concerned about the increase in possession offences, because we are out there specifically looking for them.”

The knife problem was tragically highlighted by the fatal stabbing of Hassan Mohammed Ibrahim in York Road last month.

By the time of his death, police had already seized several weapons using stop-and-search powers, covering the town centre. After Mr Ibrahim’s death, they applied for rarely-used extra powers, allowing them to stop and search anyone without having to prove they suspected theymight be armed.

Officers have also mounted extra patrols in the streets where knife crime was most common.

This will continue throughout August in London Road, and Fairfax Drive, Westcliff, and York Road, Hastings Road, East Street and Southchurch Road, Southend, plus the High Street and seafront.

Mr Anslow added: “I’m delighted at the reduction in the use of knives in violent offences.

“We havemore people working with a proactive direction there and they have found more weapons and drugs.

We have also had a significant reduction of robberies – threats involving a knife are common in robberies in Southend.”