FATAL stab killer Lewis Brown was on Oxford police's radar as one of a handful of people at risk of committing violent crime. 

Oxford police commander Supt Bruce Riddell said the force had ‘previously done work with’ the 20-year-old, who at his murder trial last month was described as a habitual knife carrier with a history of drug dealing that dated back to his mid-teens.

Despite that work ‘ultimately, he has still made the decision to go out and carry a knife and use a knife’, the senior officer told the Oxford Mail.

Earlier this month, Brown was jailed for 10-and-a-half years for fatally stabbing Lee Butler in a park off Bayswater Road, Barton, on October 8 last year. He was cleared of murder but convicted of manslaughter and knife possession.

Oxford Mail: Lewis Brown, who was jailed earlier this month Picture: TVPLewis Brown, who was jailed earlier this month Picture: TVP

Speaking during a week-long knife amnesty, part of a national police campaign called Operation Sceptre, Mr Riddell said the city police had a list of ‘less than 30 people’ linked to knives believed to be at risk of causing harm.

The list was divided into red, amber and green categories depending on the individual’s risk to others.

Just five people were in the ‘red’ category. “All of them have already been arrested. We’ve already got live investigations going on into them. Some of them are in prison just now.

“We put in quite a lot of time and effort, because that’s where our risk is and we’d much rather prevent a homicide happening in the first place by disrupting some of their activity.”

READ MORE: Detective's knife crime warning after Lewis Brown found guilty of manslaughter

He said that in addition to monitoring knife amnesty bins in police stations across the county, his officers were working with schools on educational programmes. Officers have also been seen using metal detectors to sweep parks for stashed knives.

Oxford Mail: Supt Bruce Riddell with a knife amnesty bin at St Aldates Police Station Picture: TVPSupt Bruce Riddell with a knife amnesty bin at St Aldates Police Station Picture: TVP

“Ultimately, what we’re trying to achieve is reduced knife crime in Thames Valley and Oxford. If we can get knives off the streets or away from people that always helps,” Mr Riddell said.

“If you carry a knife you are more at risk of being seriously injured. It’s just really not cool to carry a knife. It just puts people at more risk

“One or two inches can be the difference between a serious injury or a murder. It’s just ridiculous people carrying knives to one protect themselves or two to threaten other people with it.”

Possession of a knife can carry a maximum sentence of four years’ imprisonment. Those caught at least twice with a knife or offensive weapon face an automatic sentence of six months behind bars.

New laws that came into force last July makes it illegal to have certain knives or weapons in a ‘private place’, like one’s home. They include ‘zombie knives’ and swordsticks.

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.  

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @t_seaward