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Brent police chief recalls getting throat slashed as he becomes knife crime leader

PUBLISHED: 19:01 12 May 2017 | UPDATED: 19:01 12 May 2017

Chief Superintendent Michael Gallagher has been left scarred for life after neck slashed  (Picture: Met Police)

Chief Superintendent Michael Gallagher has been left scarred for life after neck slashed (Picture: Met Police)

Archant

Brent’s detective chief superintendent has told how he was viciously slashed in the throat as the Met appoints him to take charge of the capital’s knife crime epidemic.

Michael Gallagher had his throat viciously slashed with a carpet knife when he was 21 while out with friends at a disco.

His friend was stabbed in the chest nine times with a screwdriver.

As Gallagher tried to intervene, he was kicked to the ground and one of the men pulled back his head and slashed his exposed neck which left him with a foot-long scar.

He said “My surgeon told me later that as my throat went back my jugular vein sank into my neck so the knife skimmed over the top of it. If it had nicked it I’d have been dead in 30 seconds.”

He joined the police force two years later in 1986 and now after 33 years of service the Met have put him at the forefront of its Operation Sceptre scheme to take the lead on knife crime.

He said: “I was a victim of knife crime so I know how it feels, and I know the impact it had on my parents, my immediate family and my friends.”

Brent has been blighted with a series of stabbings this year. Quamari Barnes, 15, died from stab wounds in Willesden. A 15-year-old boy is due to appear at the Old Bailey later this month charged with his murder.

Joseph Olopo, 21, collapsed and died after being knifed in the neck yards from Brent Cross station in February.

Last week two teenagers were stabbed in separate incidents in Wembley High Road and a rapper known to friends as Skeng was killed in Harlesden.

Gallagher added: “We are all passionate about ridding our society of knife crime and sending clear messages, particularly to young people that when they decide to carry a knife all the evidence suggests that statistically they are more likely to end up a victim themselves.

“We will target those that carry knives with the specific intention of using them, but knife crime is not a problem we can solve overnight or alone, but I am reassured that communities support the police in our enforcement activity - they want rid of this too, so a new task force of 100 officers will support the priority knife crime boroughs with operational activity like weapon sweeps and intelligence-led stop and search operations.”

He said that research has shown that it is not just victims that are vulnerable but that suspects also “come from a chaotic background not just driven by socio-economics”. He said mental health issues can also have them carrying knives.

He added: “As part of the Met’s renewed focus on knife crime we are using a lot of research and an evidence base to help us to understand what is really going on and how better we can tackle it. It’s about understanding the psychology and looking at the academic base we have.

“All of the work we are doing will give us a better understanding of the psychology of knife suspects and what it means to a young person when they decide to carry a knife - a knife that could potentially seriously injure or kill either them or another person.”

For more information go to met.police.uk/StopKnifeCrime

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