AN EX POLICE sergeant and Bournemouth University academic is calling for more knife crime prevention and says young people carry zombie knives as 'status symbols'.

Dr Richard Heslop, senior lecturer in criminology at Bournemouth University, has witnessed the effects of knife crime first hand after 28 years in the police force.

Dr Heslop said it is education and campaigns such as the Echo’s ‘No More Knives’ campaign, that will make a difference in the town.

After a series of violent incidents in the area, the Echo launched the campaign to encourage organisations to work together to make Bournemouth a safer place.

Bournemouth Echo: Dr Richard Heslop

“I certainly have a concern for the young people, especially the young men, because they're the ones, statistically, who are most likely to be victims,” said Dr Heslop.

He added that in his experience, most young people found to be carrying knives justify the offence in the name of defence.

In a previous report, Dorset Police revealed that between 2018 and 2022, almost half of both victims and suspects were aged under 25.

“We’re fairly lucky in this country that we don’t have easily accessible firearms, but I think for some young people, knives are the most readily available means.

“There will be multiple reasons why people carry knives but particularly with these zombie knives, they see it as a status symbol."

Dr Heslop said that during his career as a police sergeant, knife amnesties were common. 

“I don’t think it will solve the issue, because the people that want to use them, won’t turn up at a police station but at least it does get some out of circulation.”

READ MORE: Zombie knives: Labour candidate calls for crackdown

READ MORE: BCP Council leader supports knife statue visit for Cameron Hamilton

As well as an increased police presence, which Dorset Police have been implementing over the past few weeks, Dr Heslop believes there should be more education in schools surrounding knife crime.

He added his support for the recent temporary stop and search order in the town, but said he does not think introducing the order permanently would be beneficial.

“I think we've got to be careful with stop and search because it's such a contentious issue and I think that it is a tool that can be used, but it has to be used only, where the police have got the reasonable grounds.

“I don't favour a blanket searching of people without reasonable grounds, just from a civil liberties point of view.”