A covert group of Melton people made up mainly of victims of crime have urged town traders to take a more responsible attitude to the sale of knives.
Members of the People’s Police of Melton (PPOM) say they are not a vigilante group, but exist to make the town a safer place to live.
Their current focus is on knife crime because of the increasing numbers of murders caused by bladed weapons.
There has also been a number of stabbings in the Melton area, including one in October when a man received life-threatening injuries in Bentley Street, and another in Beckmill Lane which saw a man taken to hospital.
The PPOM group has written to retailers calling on them to make knives less accessible to customers.
They state in the letter: “Our team has visited plenty of stores locally over the past week and found some awful displays. “Stores selling knives on low level displays so they could be grabbed by infants on foot or in pushchairs.
“Another store has over 300 knives in their display.
“As a small town this is highly excessive, and available to youths should they want or feel the need to steal.”
The letter was sent to Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Yorkshire Trading, Wilko, Boyes and QD Stores.
It continues: “Obviously we would all like to stop the sale of knives and bladed items like this, it is so easy for an addict, teen or vulnerable person to grab and run.
“We want to make our town and your workplace a safe place, therefore we would like to work with you and your sale of these products.”
The group is urging staff not to sell knives to anyone who appears intoxicated, or who is behaving in an agitated manner.
Members also ask, in the letter, for the following protocols to be followed in stores:
l Knives to be displayed behind the counter or on high shelving, and not at ground level.
l A limit put on the number of knives on sale, and a maximum stock level on shop floor
l Security tagging to be used on knives to reduce opportunity of theft
l Purchase cards used on displays, so identification checks can be made before an item is handed over.
l Knives displayed behind locked glass cabinets.
PPOM is also fundraising to provide three knife bins in the town so owners can deposit them safely and anonymously and take them off the streets.
The group is aiming to raise £1,500 to provide knife bins at both secondary schools and another in the town centre.
Go online at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/ppom-group to pledge money for the cause.
The group declined a request by the Melton Times to take a photograph of members because they say they rely on remaining anonymous to gather information for their campaigns in the town.
Melton police have welcomed the sentiments behind PPOM’s campaign on knife crime, although they insist they do not work with them.
Sgt Iain Wakelam said: “We are aware of this closed group on social media, but do not monitor or have any formal communication with the group.
“Any conversation about knife crime, the availability of knives, and safeguarding our community is welcomed.
“I hope retailers in Melton are open to review their practices around knife sales, especially with the recent positive step taken by Asda to restrict single knife sales.”