Boy, 11, pulls huge knife in street but police treat incident as ‘not urgent’

A mum has voiced her horror after spotting an 11-year-old boy brandishing an eight inch kitchen knife – only for police to refuse to come out, saying it was ‘no threat’.

Gemma Fountain, 38, snapped the boy in broad daylight on a residential street in Eastbourne, East Sussex, at the weekend.

Gemma watched from her home as the boy plunged the blade into a tree trunk and ran off to a nearby play park.

Once the group of youngsters were out of sight, she went out and grabbed it to ensure they didn’t come back and take it later.

But the mum-of-one claims when a neighbour called Sussex Police and asked them to attend, he was left on hold for 40 minutes before officers told him they wouldn’t be coming to the scene "urgently".

Knife crime campaigners say Britain is caught in a blade epidemic with 41 people stabbed to death so far this year.

 Gemma said: “I saw the group outside my house and they were close to my car so I went and checked.

"That’s when I noticed the knife. I quickly got my phone and took pictures.

“They were young and I don’t think they were going to do anything, they were nervous when they caught someone at the window and they left and they left the knife.

“I was a bit jelly legged I must admit going out to grab it but I think it was because I was shocked.

"It’s a nice neighbourhood and I just didn’t expect to see that.”

After Gemma brought the knife into her home, another resident then called Sussex Police on 101 but was allegedly put on hold for 40 minutes.

When Gemma posted her photos of the blade online, they were shared more than 1,000 times in less than an hour.

Gemma said: “When my neighbour got through to the police, they told him that they wouldn’t be coming out.

“Later, they were called to a separate incident on the street and I shouted them over.

“The officers seemed shocked that no one had been round already, especially when I told them I had the knife inside.

“When they saw the size of it, they looked mortified.

“You’d think with all the stuff going on at the minute they would be straight round, the children were still in the park when we got through to the police.

“They could have spoken to them straight away.”

Sussex Police said they are now looking into the incident and the parents of the children involved have been made aware, but claimed as the weapon was no longer with the boy there was ‘no immediate risk’.

A spokesperson said: “The person who posted the photos on social media passed the knife to a neighbour who reported it to police by telephone, but not 999, about two hours after the incident.

“This had been preceded by an online report from another informant just over an hour after the boys had been seen.

“As the knife was in safe keeping, there was no indication that the boys were still in the area and no threats had been made, arrangements were made to collect the knife in due course.

“It was picked up by an officer later that evening who was attending an unrelated incident in the area.

“Police have now identified all of the boys in the photo and are speaking to them and their parents.”

Police said the knife is also now being inspected to see if it is forensically linked to any crimes.

Chief Inspector Anita Turner, district policing commander for Eastbourne, said: "Fortunately, nobody was injured, but we will not accept knives being carried on the streets of Eastbourne and this incident is being rigorously investigated.

"Knife crime is very much in the news at the moment and this comes on the eve of the launch of Operation Sceptre, which is a national week of awareness aiming to educate people on the dangers of carrying knives.

“We are determined to keep Sussex safe and anyone carrying a knife, especially as blatantly as on this occasion, can expect to be robustly dealt with." 

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