Jan 18 2008 by Andrew Hirst, Huddersfield Daily Examiner
A MAJOR operation to tackle knife crime has been held at a Kirklees railway station where a youngster was stabbed to death.
Seventeen-year-old Ahmed Hassan, from Batley, died after he was stabbed near the station entrance at 2pm on December 15.
Michael Brook, 18, of St Matthew Road, Westtown, and a 17-year-old who cannot be named for legal reasons have been charged with murder and are expected to go on trial in June.
The railway station was part of a national operation to target knife crime on the railways.
The scanning was carried out by the British Transport Police between 4pm and 7pm.
Hand-held scanners and mobile walk-though metal detectors – similar to those used at airports – were used as part of Operation Shield in a bid to deter knife carrying on the railways.
A team of officers in uniform and plain clothes were there to arrest anyone in possession of weapons.
Well over 100 went through the scanners and 50 people were searched for drugs.
One small penknife was found dropped on the ground.
Six were warned for possessing cannabis and one person wanted on warrant was arrested.
For more than 18 months BTP has run Operation Shield at stations throughout the North East as part of a rolling programme.
The operation has been carried out at Leeds, Huddersfield, Bradford, Doncaster and Sheffield.
From April 2006 to the end of March 2007, 60,000 people have passed through the detectors and have been searched for weapons.
It has led to 318 arrests and 285 weapons recovered.
Knives, hammers, CS gas canisters and bats were among some of the weapons found.
Chief Insp David Oram from British Transport Police in Leeds said: “Operation Shield is a national campaign run by BTP to tackle knife crime on the railways. The recent tragic event that took place at Dewsbury is a sad reminder to us all that there is a culture of carrying knives within some groups of young people and we have to do all we can and be committed to tackling this crime and removing dangerous weapons from our streets.
“Incidents of knife crime in this area on the railway are low and we are closely working in partnership with West Yorkshire Police, Network Rail and train operating companies to ensure it remains that way.
“Our aim is to make the railway safer and free from disruption and the fear of crime.
“Passengers’ reaction to the scheme has been very positive.”
Meanwhile, Kirklees Council’s Conservative Cabinet member with responsibility for Safer and Stronger Communities has welcomed Gordon Brown’s pledge to clamp down on people carrying knives through more prosecutions.
But Clr Khizar Iqbal said it was ‘too little too late’ and that the Government’s moves didn’t go far enough.
Mr Brown has ordered police officers in the worst knife-crime areas to prosecute anyone found carrying a blade.
He said carrying knives or guns was “completely unacceptable” and that officers should not be looking at cautions for offenders.
The zero-tolerance applied will be applied to 12 knife-crime hotspots, mainly in large cities like London, Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham.
Clr Iqbal said: “I welcome the intention to clamp down on people carrying knives because it is a clear move in the right direction, but I don’t believe the moves go far enough and I also fear it is too little too late.
“Knife crime is a very serious issue and it has increased under this Government.
“What purpose can there be for carrying one other than evil intentions?
“It is a scandal that those found to be carrying knives have simply been cautioned and not prosecuted.
“I am also disappointed that this is just a directive to the police and is only being ‘trialled’ in certain areas.
“Such a directive should be nationwide – not just in places like London and Manchester – and definitely in places such as Kirklees.
“The directive also needs backing up with clear legislation.
“As for Gordon Brown’s plans to use teenagers as ‘test purchasers’ to snare retailers selling blades illegally, that is ridiculous.
“Rather than ‘testing’ and ‘snaring’ being done by teenagers, we should be looking to impose blanket restrictions on shops who sell these dangerous weapons, because it is inevitable that many will fall into the wrong hands whoever they are sold to.”
Transport chiefs are reviewing security after Ahmed’s death.
Metro spokesman Neil Holt told the Kirklees Passenger Consultative Committee on Wednesday that talks were under way about security at train stations.