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Nationwide week of action sees police crackdown on knife crime - updated

24 Nov 2022

Nationwide week of action sees police crackdown on knife crime - updated: NPCC Sceptre blue

Operation Sceptre, the national police campaign to tackle knife crime, took place from Monday 14 November to Sunday 20 November 2022, has seen over 7,000 knives removed from our streets.

All 43 police forces in England and Wales, including the British Transport Police, took part in the seven-day crack down on knife crime which saw 2,550 people arrested, of which 742 were related to knife crime offences.

A variety of other tactics were used by forces; including weapons sweeps, knife arches in public places and events and ‘honesty’ bins to remove knives off the streets. Officers seized 653 knives, a decrease of 26% since the last Operation Sceptre week in May 2022, and 6,380 were either surrendered or seized during sweeps.

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 six prisons, 60 cells and 100 inmates were searched in a targeted approach. Within the prisons, 22 weapons were found. Among these improvised weapons were razor blades affixed to toothbrushes and other homemade handles.  

National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for knife crime, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Graham McNulty, said:

“Operation Sceptre is about cracking down on knife crime which has a devastating impact on our communities. The sheer number of arrests and seizures made across England and Wales last week sends a clear message that we will not tolerate knife crime in any form.

“We have continued our close partnership with the Prison Service, where we have targeted those carrying weapons within prisons. This approach could add a considerable time to their sentence and prevents dangerous offenders getting back onto the streets.

“Op Sceptre highlights the commitment of the police working with the public and partners to prevent young people becoming involved in serious violence. Last week saw forces continued engagement with schools and communities by police forces across the UK.

“Young people must understand that carrying a knife is never the answer, nor does it offer the protection they think it does. It only puts them at greater risk.”

Weapons seized during the week, included machetes, swords and hunting knives and other forms of criminality such as supplying drugs were also identified. Police also continued to work closely with Border Force to stop illegal knives entering the country and reaching our streets.

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. In total, 1,490 schools were engaged with, 1,524 retailers visited, as well as 900 local community events, talking about the dangers of knife crime to young people.

The Sceptre week saw many different areas of policing come together to join forces, ranging from response officers to underwater search teams and neighbourhood policing teams. The collaboration of different teams and forces has driven forward the effort to tackle knife crime. 

Minister for Crime, Policing and Fire Chris Philp said:

“I thank the police officers and volunteers up and down the country for their intensive efforts last week, as part of Operation Sceptre, to rid our streets of dangerous weapons.

"Every knife seized is a potential life saved. While knife crime is down across the country, we cannot be complacent and continue to act to prevent more devastation.

“We're giving our police the resources they need to tackle serious violence, recruiting 20,000 additional police officers by March 2023 and bringing forward greater powers so they can stop and search known knife offenders.”

*Please note the following figures have been updated from first publication of this press release earlier today (24/11):

  • Total knives seized: 653
  • Total arrests: 2,550
  • Total knife related arrests: 742
  • Schools engaged: 1,490