THE anti-knife crime rally in Penhill aimed to tackle Swindon teen gang violence following a string of injuries and incidents around the town throughout the last six months.

In January, a teenager in the Parks area plunged a zombie-style knife so far into the backside of another boy that it had to be surgically removed.

In March, police arrested an 11-year-old boy in the town centre after he was allegedly found in possession of a knife.

The child was the youngest person they stopped during a week-long operation targeting knife crime.

In May, a Toothill man was taken to hospital after he was stabbed three times.

Just one week later, a 15-year-old boy had to be treated by doctors after being slashed in the head by a group of youths on Swindon Road in Stratton in what locals described as an unprovoked attack by one group of youths on another. A member of one of the gangs was said to have been armed with a machete.

The number of people sentenced or cautioned in Wiltshire for a knife or weapon offence rose slightly from 169 months during the 12 months to March 2018 up to 177 this year.

Speaking in response to the Ministry of Justice statistics last week, Wiltshire Police’s head of crime prevention Sonia Leith said: “Although the public may find that concerning, we have been running a wide range of awareness campaigns encouraging people to report incidents involving knives and weapons, as well as carrying out increased proactive work to crack down on the issue.

“These offences will also include incidents where people have been caught carrying a knife, rather than using one – so this increase may be down to our commitment to stop and search, and our appeal to the public to contact police if they have concerns about someone carrying a knife.

“It is important to note that the vast majority of these types of offences involve people who are known to each other and very often are related to wider criminality, including drug dealing and County Lines operations.

“We completely acknowledge that, although Wiltshire remains one of the safest places in the country, people are worried about knife crime in their communities.

“At Wiltshire Police we are concentrating on a multi-agency approach, which involves educating young people about the dangers of carrying a knife, arresting and convicting offenders if they are caught carrying or using a weapon.”