Police are investigating a possible link between two stabbings in Horsham and have released an urgent plea for more information.
A 25-year-old was left with serious injuries after he was attacked in East Street in the early hours of Sunday while a teenager was stabbed in Rushams Road.
Originally officers said the two incidents were not connected. However, Chief Inspector Miles Ockwell told the County Times the incidents were too similar for them to be ruling out a connection.
He said: “We are trying to keep an open mind on whether or not these are connected.
“I think these are specific offences in terms of they are not altercations where people have been drinking on a Saturday night and they have had a coming together. I think these are some people who have especially gone out with the intent to probably commit robbery armed with a knife and not been scared to use it.”
When discussing the East Street incident - which was original thought to be an unprovoked attack - Mr Ockwell said: “Having seen the victim he can not really remember what happened. I don’t think we can discount the fact it could have been a robbery.”
He added: “I think I need to be frank and honest and say as things stand we don’t know who is responsible, we are conducting an extensive investigation including CCTV trawling.
“I think someone in the community knows something about it and I want them to come forward with information if they have it.”
Officers will be stepping up patrols around the town and Mr Ockwell said more stop and searches will be carried out.
He said: “We already do a lot of enforcement and we are out and about stopping and searching people but they can expect an increase in that over the coming weeks.
“I understand that the public will be concerned about these incidents but they are not part of a worrying trend of members of the public being attacked with knives.
“In the grand scheme of things these are very rare incidents, people getting stabbed in Horsham is very very rare.
“It’s obviously very serious so I want to give some reassurance we are doing what we can.”
He asked for the public to remain vigilant and report anything suspicious to officers.
Horsham Police is also battling an issue with county line drug dealing in the town and has carried out several raids across the Horsham, Worthing and Adur area.
Mr Ockwell said the drug trade from bigger cities such as London was moving towards the south and in some instances this involved knife related crimes.
“I do have concerns around knife related violence around county line drug dealing in Horsham and that is a threat to Horsham as it is to most towns around the South East of England. It’s a continuing threat that we are dealing with.”
However, he said the weekend stabbings were not thought to be connected to this.
Sussex Police is backing the Metropolitan Police campaign Operation Sceptre which is looking to tackle the issue of knife crime across the country.
Last week the Horsham team hosted a stall at the Thursday market in the Carfax to engage with the public about issues surrounding knife related crime. They have also visited schools to talk to young people about the dangers of knives and next month will be launching a similar new initiative specifically targeting the Horsham, Adur and Worthing district called Operation Minster.
Anyone with any information about the weekend’s incidents is asked to contact 101 quoting references 84 of 18/02 for the East Street incident and 99 of 18/02 for the Rushams Road attack.
Related stories: 25-year-old stabbed in ‘vicious’ and ‘unprovoked’ attack in Horsham