A KNIFE offender who tried to flee police while carrying a seven-inch blade was detained just hours after a knife crime awareness event.

Rashid Yousefi, of Windermere Road, Southend, fled officers as he was approached after members of the public had raised concerns about suspected drug dealing activity taking place in the city centre.

After becoming suspicious he may have discarded evidence nearby, officers swiftly searched the area and CCTV, which revealed he had thrown a knife onto a nearby roof while fleeing.

Acting Sergeant Carly Boitoult, of Southend’s town centre team, had been approached by the residents just moments after giving an anti-knife crime talk to school children at the Knife Angel on Thursday.

 The 28-year-old's weapon was recovered and revealed to be a large kitchen knife. Yousefi was arrested and later charged with possession of a knife in a public place.

He admitted the charge at Southend Magistrates’ Court on Friday and was jailed for 26 weeks.
Sgt Boitoult said: “As community policing officers, we are always alert to the priority of tackling knife crime.

“Yousefi thought he could conceal the fact he was carrying a weapon. We were quick to detain him, search the area and prove him wrong.

“The carrying of weapons often goes hand-in-hand with wider offending such as drug dealing and we work hard to act upon concerns over anti-social behaviour and suspicious activity in Southend city centre.

“There is never an acceptable excuse for carrying a knife.

“The public are all too aware, as are we, that the impact of knife crime can be devastating.

“Working with our partners on educating young people on the reality of knife crime, and through raising awareness through initiatives like the Knife Angel structure, we can look towards the root cause of the issues around the possession of weapons.”

The 27-foot Knife Angel, unveiled in Southend High Street in Monday, is formed of 100,000 knives and aims to raise awareness of the impact of knife crime.

In Southend, officers work to drive down knife crime alongside Southend Council, the British Transport Police, the c2c railway and seafront businesses as part of Operation Union.

This sees officers maintain a constant presence during the busy summer months, providing a visible deterrent and diffusing any potential flashpoints.

Reports of knife-related are down by 20 per cent in Southend in the 12 months to date, when compared with the same period last year.