Operation Sceptre, the national police initiative to tackle knife crime which took place last week (15 May to 21 May 2023) has seen 9,737 knives removed from our streets and 1,693 people arrested, of which 829 were related to knife crime offences.
Operation Sceptre brings together all 43 police forces across England and Wales in a week of intensified action with forces coordinating activity which targets knife crime from the root cause right through to enforcement.
A variety of other tactics were used by forces; including weapons sweeps, engagement with schools and local communities, knife arches in public places and events and knife surrender bins to remove knives off the streets.
Commander Stephen Clayman is National Police Chiefs’ Council knife crime lead. He said:
“There is a lot of fantastic work taking place across police forces to tackle knife crime and Op Sceptre is a great opportunity to both highlight and showcase the difference this work is making.
“Knife crime remains a complex issue and is not a problem which policing can tackle alone and it’s been really positive to see all the different examples where we are working in collaboration with partner organisations to address some of the root causes and support young people in making informed choices.
“As well as early intervention, we are working with Government to review knife crime legislation with an ongoing consultation around proposals which includes strengthening police powers to seize knives, banning the sale of the most dangerous types of knives and increasing penalties both for those selling to underage buyers and for anyone carrying a knife with the intention of endangering life.
“The consultation is still open and I’d encourage everyone to take part and have their say. This is an ongoing mission and one which needs collective ambition, energy and patience.”
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said:
“This week’s crackdown has taken thousands of knives off the streets, along with the criminals who carry them.
“Knife crime remains a blight in our neighbourhoods, but I’m confident the police, working with schools and communities will help deter people from carrying these weapons. The Government’s consultation to outlaw knives currently not banned is still open on gov.uk, and I would urge the public to submit their responses.”
Youth engagement forms a significant part of the week, helping young people to move away from violence and involvement in gang activity. The week also focused on education and engagement with members of the public and retailers who sell knives. 2,810 school engagement visits took place alongside nearly 2,000 community or educational events and officers visited over 2,000 retailers to talk about the sale of knives. Of 670 test purchases made with 17 per cent (114) resulting in failures. Retailers who fail test purchases can be given education and advice and around the regulations when selling knives or prosecuted in some circumstances.
As part of Operation Sceptre, the police worked closely with HM Prison Service, in a co-ordinated effort to tackle violence in prisons, with an intelligence led operation, targeting those carrying weapons and disrupting the supply of knives/bladed articles available to use. Across seven prisons, 66 cells and 77 inmates were searched in a targeted approach. Within the prisons, 18 weapons were found and seized.