Running for seven days between Monday, 15 and Sunday, 21 November, Operation Sceptre saw officers using every tactic available including weapons sweeps and surrender bins to remove knives off the streets. Officers also carried out 97 stop searches; 11 of which recovered a knife. The operation resulted in 29 arrests in the county, with 10 of these having knives seized directly.
Some of the weapons seized during the week, included machetes, swords and hunting knives. Through the engagement and enforcement tactics available, other forms of criminality such as supplying drugs were also identified.
During the week, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight were successful in recovering 176 knives that had been surrendered in knife bins. They also
- carried out 57 weapon sweeps of parks and open spaces – no weapons found
- engaged directly with 126 schools to support education and prevention
- corresponded with 50 retailers and made 14 on site test purchases – two failed by selling knives to Under 18s.
Schools and local communities had events put on to talk about the dangers of knife crime helping young people move away from violence and involvement in gang activity.
Chief Inspector John Halfacre, lead for knife crime at Hampshire Constabulary, said: “Working closely as a force and with our partners we have recorded some great proactive results. Thanks to the intensification activity, 206 fewer knives are on the streets of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, which is a great result towards our continued efforts to reduce serious violence and specifically knife crime in our communities.
“The operation reflects our commitment to working alongside local agencies and the community to prevent knife crime. Whilst policing plays an essential role in enforcement activity we want to continue to work together alongside our Violence Reduction Network to embed a community-led approach to prevention and enforcement, by working together and taking a unified approach we will ultimately be more effective in reducing knife crime and divert young people away from becoming involved with knife crime.
“It is important that we all take a role in supporting our young people to make positive choices and facilitate conversations that bring about change, help and support is available and resources can be found on our website safe4me and the national knife free campaign.
“We are currently working with the St Giles Trust to deliver education and early intervention packages around serious violence to 60 schools across Hampshire targeting those children and young people in Year 6 and Year 7; and seeking to educate them about knife crime, child criminal exploitation, county lines drug dealing and gang violence.
“Ultimately, knife crime will not be tolerated, we will continue to tackle knife crime as a force priority and we will continue to work collaboratively to do everything we can to catch offenders and deal with them correctly.”
Police and Crime Commissioner, Donna Jones, said: “I am very concerned about knife crime, particularly knife crime involving young people who are most at risk of being stabbed. The Constabulary’s week of targeted action has meant the removal of more than 200 knives from our streets and 29 arrests. Each arrest and every confiscation helps to reduce knife crime. This latest week of actions follows on from a highly successful week focused on disrupting drug supply and county lines networks.
“The issues of knife crime and county lines overlap significantly; violence and weapons use are central to county lines and a range of risk factors make young people vulnerable to both exploitation within county lines and involvement in knife crime. To have a real impact we need to ensure that enforcement is teamed with education and that we work with partners to identify those young people vulnerable to exploitation early.”
You don’t have to be involved in knife crime. There is help and support available from www.knifefree.co.uk a campaign that aims to highlight the consequences of carrying a knife and to inspire young people to pursue positive alternatives.
Anonymous reporting is available through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit crimestoppers-uk.org. The topic of knife crime can be a scary one, and you can get support through the charity www.barnardos.org.uk and you can also speak to the police by calling 101 and asking for the local Neighbourhood Team. In an emergency, always call 999.
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