MORE than 1,500 incidents involving weapons have been attended by police in Halton over the past four years.
Some involved firearms during the 2010-11 to the 2013-14 financial years.
In total officers attended 1,513 incidents over the four year period which included both firearms and non-firearms.
Across the borough in 2010-11, police were called to 371 incidents involving weapons and the total grew by just one the following year.
The rate dropped to 348 in 2012-13 before rising sharply to 422 for the most recent completed financial year.
Over the period, Runcorn experienced a slightly higher number of weapons incidents – 764 compared to 749 in Widnes.
In Runcorn, police were called out 188 times in 2010-11 and 196 times in 2011-12.
The figure then dropped to 173 in 2012-13 before rising to 207 in 2013-14.
Widnes experienced 183 weapon incidents in 2010-11 and 176 in 2011-12.
The rate waS down by one the following year before rising to 215 in 2013-14 – the highest individual statistic for any one year in either town throughout the four-year period.
The statistics include categories defined by the force as ‘firearms involved’ and ‘weapons involved – not firearms’.
The figures were obtained by the Weekly News through a Freedom Of Information request to Cheshire Constabulary.
Northern area crime manager DCI Paul Beauchamp said: “Cheshire police treat any offences involving weapons and firearms seriously.
“Thankfully, they are relatively rare in our county compared to other areas of the country, but when incidents involving weapons do occur we tackle them extremely robustly, as public safety is paramount.
“One possible reason for the swing in the figures towards Widnes from Runcorn may be two successful operations we ran.
“In one of them, we recovered a cache of weapons from a property in Widnes, and another led to an intense period of police enforcement and address searches.
“The majority of incidents involving weapons are likely to be knives and bladed articles, as opposed to firearms.
“In certain types of crime, such as domestic incidents, the weapon may be a common household implement, while sightings of firearms often turn out to be imitations or BB guns. The numbers of real, live firing weapons recovered or seized remains relatively low.
“Our message to those seeking to commit crimes, especially those involving weapons, is that Cheshire police will not tolerate it, and we will do our utmost to bring those who do seek to threaten or intimidate our communities through the use of weapons to justice.”
DCI Beauchamp added that accredited firearms officers can authorise armed officer deployment should there be a need for police to protect themselves but that ‘many of the incidents prove to be unsubstantiated but are recorded as firearms incidents nevertheless’.