WALTHAM FOREST: Police defend lack of disclosure over stabbings (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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WALTHAM FOREST: Police defend lack of disclosure over stabbings
THE chief police officer in Waltham Forest has said information about stabbings should only be released if it "adds value" to fighting crime.
Borough commander Steve Wisbey made the comments in defence of his force after the Guardian revealed that 73 per cent of knife attacks in the borough were not made public last year.
Figures obtained by this newspaper show a total of 139 people were injured and two killed in stabbings in 2010.
Mr Wisbey said that too much information released to the media would "make it difficult to see the wood for the trees".
But he said he welcomed the Government's new crime maps which show details of crimes on individual streets in the borough.
He said: "I am a big supporter of releasing and sharing information with the public because it's only by informing the public that they can make an educated contribution.
"If we don't tell the public how can we jointly find solutions to problems.
"The only problem with crime maps is that it provides a snap shot. You might have a particularly bad day when lots of cars are broken into in a car park. There might not have been any break-ins the previous few months, but on the maps it shows up as a crime hot spot."
On the question of information about stabbings, Mr Wisbey said: "Publicity has to have some added value. With stabbings we have to ask if it's going to help an investigation.
"Some victims say quite strongly that they don't want it released to the media and a lot of violence is domestic.
"We also have to balance the needs of the investigation and the needs of the public. If you have an incident that has resulted in someone being stabbed in a house there's no impact on the wider community but where there is serious violence in a public place that would."
Mr Wisbey said he could not say what proportion of stabbings were domestic and what were gang or robbery related without a close examination of the figures.
He added: "Of course I'm concerned about knife crime but we have a range of tactics to deal with it and the long term trend over the past five years is that the number of violent incidents is coming down."
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