The Home Office has hosted an event for police forces across the country to try to break the cycle of knife crime. At the briefing, Sarah Newton (Minister for Vulnerability, Safeguarding and Countering Extremism) encouraged more forces to join the Operation Sceptre week of co-ordinated police action on knife crime that takes place in July.
There are currently 29 police forces expected to take part in Operation Sceptre, which is the largest number since the initiative launched two years ago.
Sarah Newton said: “Knife crime has devastating effects on victims, families and communities. I’m hugely encouraged that a record 29 police forces have signed up to be part of next month’s Operation Sceptre and I hope more join in the next couple of weeks. We must break this cycle of violence and address the perception of young people who say they need to carry a knife to protect themselves. Let me be clear that knives have no place on our streets. The Government is committed to working with the police to tackle this issue.”
Operation Sceptre is an ongoing series of weeks of intensified action on knife crime, including targeted Stop and Search, weapon sweeps, test purchases of knives from retailers and the use of surrender bins. During a previous week of action in October last year, no less than 21 police forces across the country took part. More than 1,200 weapons were seized and over 300 arrests made. More than 720 knives were placed in amnesty bins.
The latest briefing event at the Home Office was held in conjunction with the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the Metropolitan Police Service. In a speech to attendees, Newton set out the Government’s approach towards tackling knife crime. This approach includes working closely with police and law enforcement, including by supporting Operation Sceptre, and tightening the legislative framework (for example through the introduction of mandatory minimum custodial sentences for repeat convictions and placing a ban on zombie knives).
The Government is also working with retailers to prevent the sale of knives to under-18s and promoting and providing early intervention by working with voluntary sector organisations.
Newton stressed that the Government is keen to support and encourage initiatives that work directly with young people, at the same time highlighting that a mix of agencies working together is absolutely key when it comes to tackling the issues around knife crime.
The next Operation Sceptre week of action will begin on Monday 17 July.