Police week of action sees increase in knives removed from the streets
Operation Sceptre, the national police campaign to tackle knife crime, took place from Monday 16 May to Sunday 22 May 2022, has seen an increase in the amount of 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 1947 people arrested, of which 831 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 1074 knives, an increase of over 14% since the last Operation Sceptre week in November 2021, and 8401 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 eight prisons, 100 cells and 131 inmates were searched in a targeted approach. Within the prisons, 29 weapons were found. Among these improvised weapons were razor blades affixed to toothbrushes and other homemade handles.
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, 1917 schools were engaged with, as well as 966 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 neighborhood policing teams. The collaboration of different teams and forces has driven forward the effort to tackle knife crime.
National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for knife crime, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Graham McNulty, said:
“Operation Sceptre saw a real crack down on the serious violence associated with knife crime and has delivered some outstanding results. We have seen in the last week 9,115 knives taken off our streets and made 831 knife related arrests, more than any previous Op Sceptre. This enforcement activity makes it clear that we will tackle knife crime in any form.
“We haven’t stopped there, we are working in close partnership with the Prison Service, where we have supported the service and targeted those who wish to do harm by carrying weapons within prisons. This intelligence led operation is aimed at stopping those most dangerous criminals intent on committing serious harm to prisoners and staff. The message is clear to them, we will gather evidence and seek to prosecute wherever possible, which could add a considerable sentence to their time in prison.
“Op Sceptre highlights the continuing commitment of the police working with the public in preventing young people carrying knives and this latest Sceptre week saw our engagement with schools and communities increase to higher levels than ever before. 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.”
The Minister for Crime, Policing and Probation, Kit Malthouse, said:
“We have to work day and night to keep our kids safe. There is nothing more terrifying for a parent that the thought of them not making it home.
“Operations like this are helping us make our streets safer each day. Every knife taken off our streets is a potential life saved, and since 2019 alone, we’ve removed 50,000 of them.
“Reducing serious violence is our chief priority. We’re on track to deliver 20,000 additional police officers by this time next year and we’re giving them the powers they need to keep our communities safe.”
Prisons Minister, Victoria Atkins, said:
“Knife crime ruins lives and devastates communities, and I am extremely proud of those brave prison staff who put their lives on the line to protect others.
“We are clamping down on the weapons that fuel violence behind bars, as shown by our £100m investment in additional security measures ranging from X-ray body scanners to enhanced gate security.
“But our efforts aren’t just in prisons – anyone carrying blades should feel the full force of the law, which is why this Government have changed the law to make sure anyone convicted of knife crime more likely than ever to end up behind bars, and for longer.”