CALLS have been made for more police on the streets – as detectives probed a third knife attack in a fortnight.

Officers are already investigating two fatal stabbings in as many weeks. Another man, 30s, was attacked by a masked gang in Blackbird Leys on Tuesday night. He remains in hospital.

Detectives are also investigating stabbings in Abingdon and Didcot.

Oxford police commander Supt Bruce Riddell said people’s concerns were ‘understandable’ but added the force was ‘absolutely resolute’ in tackling knife crime.

On Tuesday night, a man in his 30s was stabbed in the leg, buttock and wrist in Blackbird Leys Park then walked through Gillians Park. Detectives suspect he was stabbed by a number of men, said to have had their faces covered.

Senior investigating officer Det Insp James Mather of Oxford CID said it was not believed to be a ‘random attack’.

Paul Scarrott, who called the police after finding 'a load of blood' in Gillians Park, told the Oxford Mail he feared knife crime would get 'worse and worse'.

“Knife crime is scary, especially for the kids and girls walking in the parks, government and council need to put funding in to make these parks safer," he said.

“Next time and I hope it doesn’t happen, it could be something more serious. It will get worse and worse.”

Homeowners in Greater Leys, near where the man was found by emergency services, echoed his comments.

A 43-year-old mum who has lived in the area for 18 years and did not want to be named said: “I think it’s terrible.” She called for a greater police presence. “They do drive around but they don’t stay around very often,” the woman said.

Mum Rachel Scotland, 28, who lives nearby, said: “To be quite honest I’m used to it. It’s always happening around here. It’s absolutely disgusting. You don’t want your kids growing up around here. The police need to do more to stop knife crime.”

The stabbing is the latest to rock the county, with at least five – including two fatal knifings – in the last two-and-a-half weeks.

They include:

  • The killing of Lee Butler, 39, who was stabbed in Bayswater Road, Barton, on October 8. Lewis Brown, 20, has been charged with his murder.

Earlier this week, police also appealed for witnesses after a boy, 17, was punched and kicked by a gang at a Didcot fair on October 8.

Oxford Mail: Scene of the incident this morning. Picture by Ed Nix

Police at the scene of the Barton 'murder' Picture: ED NIX

Chairman of the Thames Valley Police crime panel Cllr Merilyn Davies said: “I think it’s important to remember they’re not linked. Obviously, that’s no comfort to families or victims. I think the police are doing an awful lot on it. Violent crime is one of their priorities.” She added that it was a case of ‘prevention’, name checking the force’s Violence Reduction Unit for its work in schools.

Cllr Louise Upton, Oxford City Council’s cabinet member for safety, said that in an ‘ideal world more would be done’ but added: “Police with the stretched resources are really up against it.” The council was upgrading its CCTV and had received almost £450,000 from the government to improve the safety on the streets.

“Keep things in perspective,” she said, asked what her message was to city residents.

“You’re still much more likely to be injured or killed driving your car. Keep things in perspective but at the same time be sensible.”

Cllr Rae Humberstone, a ward councillor for Blackbird Leys, said: “The police are doing their best to make sure young people aren’t going out with knives in their pockets. It’s a lot [to do] with parental responsibility.”

In a statement, Supt Bruce Riddell said the recent stabbings were not linked.

“It’s entirely understandable the concern such incidents cause, and we are committed to reducing knife crime and the threat of knife-related incidents in Oxford,” he said.

“In addition to our operational response, we continue to work closely with the Violence Reduction Unit and other partners, including Oxford City Council, to implement early intervention programmes and strive to prevent incidents such as these from taking place.

“Our communities play a crucial role too, and you can report any information to Thames Valley Police if you know of any individuals who are carrying weapons or are at risk of doing so.”

Oxford Mail: Supt Bruce Riddell of Thames Valley Police

Supt Bruce Riddell of Thames Valley Police

The officer added: “We remain absolutely resolute in our determination to removing knives and knife crime in our communities and will continue to work with all of our partners in doing so.”

Matthew Barber, police and crime commissioner, said: “These are tragic incidents and I can totally understand the concern when people hear about these incidents, particularly in quick succession. 

"My role in holding the force to account is two-fold. It’s the short term initial response around the investigation and continued patrol strategy and ensuring those issues are being properly dealt with. I have spoken to the chief constable and chief superintendent in Oxfordshire around what’s been done around additional patrols [for] reassurance and apprehending those responsible.”

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