Merseyside Police committed to combatting knife crime in wake of Ava White’s death

A senior police officer has said Ava’s death was “absolutely something you never want to see in the streets of Merseyside.”

The tragic death of a schoolgirl made police “double their efforts” in the battle against knife crime across Merseyside.

Ava White was just 12 years old when she was stabbed in Liverpool City Centre while attending the Christmas lights switch on in November last year. She was taken to Alder Hey Hospital where she later died of her injuries.

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A 14-year-old boy has pleaded not guilty to murdering Ava. He admitted possessing an offensive weapon, a knife, in Church Alley in the city on the day the schoolgirl died.

Now a senior police officer has said Ava’s death was “absolutely something you never want to see in the streets of Merseyside.”

Ava White, 12, was stabbed in Liverpool city centre.

Assistant chief constable (ACC) of Merseyside Police Jonathan Roy made the admission during a scrutiny meeting held by Merseyside police and crime commissioner (PCC) Emily Spurrell at Knowsley Council.

According to police data, around 80 cases of knife crime were recorded as of December 2021.

Louise Kane, head of performance and analytics at Merseyside Police, told the meeting that offences had “sat stable” over time but peaked at 140 in October last year.

She added that in areas such as Knowsley and St Helens, there had been a 50% reduction in cases involving a knife while ACC Roy said there were examples of positive work being done around knife crime, with a decrease in incidents of around 9% in Liverpool when needle spiking incidents were not taken into consideration as per previous data sets.

He added that when linked to public space efforts, the number of hospital admissions and the number of victims under 25s, it shows “some progress in the right direction.”

PCC Spurrell said the issue of knife crime was “a tricky one” because when she speaks to members of the public, “it doesn’t feel better because we’ve had some really tragic incidents, some really tragic murders.”

ACC Roy agreed that there had been some “really significant” incidents across Merseyside over the past few years including the “incredibly sad” murder of Ava, a year 8 pupil at Notre Dame Catholic College.

He said: “It’s absolutely something you never want to see in the streets of Merseyside or anywhere else frankly. If there’s anything that makes us double our efforts to improve things, we will do.”

He added that was the reason why the force “invest so much” in preventing knife crime among young people and a balance needed to be struck around discussing knife crime and avoiding potentially increasing fear among communities when doing so.

The 14-year-old boy will face trial in May in relation to Ava White’s death.