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Hampshire Constabulary is one of many forces across the country to unite in a week of action to tackle knife crime.
Operation Sceptre gets underway today and will see intensified efforts through operations carried out with our partner agencies, as our policing teams take a united approach with other forces nationally to tackle knife crime and the associated serious violence it can often stem from.
As part of these operations we will target habitual knife carriers and engage with children, young people and parents to educate them about the risks of carrying a knife and signpost them to relevant support services.
Operation Sceptre will also highlight ongoing work with schools, charities, retailers, the health service and communities to reduce knife crime and keep people safe.
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic reducing knife crime has remained a top priority for policing nationally. Operation Sceptre brings together police forces in a coordinated national effort to tackle serious violence and will see forces build upon already existing activity that involves crucial engagement and prevention work.
As part of Operation Sceptre, police will partner with Border Force nationally to monitor knives and other offensive weapons, including attempts to import illegal items, as well as sharing intelligence.
Knife crime offences have been rising since 2013/14, however statistics released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in October 2020 show a 1% decrease in offences involving knives or sharp instruments recorded by the police in the year ending June 2020, predominately due to coronavirus and the lockdown restrictions. However, in recent years increases in knife crime have slowed and we will continue working with partners to reduce this further and make our communities safer.
Early intervention to steer young people away from knife crime and putting in place measures to tackle the root causes remains vital. We continue to work closely with retailers, including those who operate online and with Trading Standards to come up with solutions to ensure weapons are not falling into the wrong hands. We have had positive outcomes from recent work, with Ali Baba, eBay and Facebook who have all introduced new measures to restrict the sale of knives to people in the UK – particularly those under the age of 18.
National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Knife Crime, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Graham McNulty, said:
“Police forces up and down the country work tirelessly in bringing violent offenders involved in knife crime to justice.
“While the causes and drivers of knife crime are complex, early intervention and putting in place measures to tackle the root causes are absolutely essential.
“Policing plays the pivotal role in enforcement activity, but also has a role in supporting communities and local agencies to come together to prevent knife crime. By working together with our partners, we know that we can be more effective, responsive and ultimately improve people's lives.
“Operation Sceptre builds on the work we already do with partners like Border Force and Trading Standards to stop the flow of illegal and dangerous knives that end up in the hands of our young people.
“This activity forms part of our wider, ongoing work with the Government, schools, health and social services and charities to explore what more we can do as a whole society to tackle knife crime.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel, said: “Knife crime causes misery and fear in our communities, and this government will not tolerate it.
“I have backed the police with more powers and resources to bear down on serious violence, and we are also taking action to stop young people being drawn into criminal activity.
“Through the work of police, Border Force and other partners, Operation Sceptre is an important part of our collective mission to take dangerous weapons off the streets and keep people safe.”
Hampshire Constabulary’s Force Lead for Knife crime, Chief Inspector John Halfacre said: “Reducing knife crime requires a multi-agency response across all communities, the public, private and charity sectors in order to deliver lasting long-term change.
"Op Sceptre will see both an increase in operational policing activity as well as preventative work with schools and clubs to deliver educational workshops to show young people why carrying a knife is never the right choice.
"Across the country there is a structured, overarching approach to tackling knife crime that involves crucial engagement and prevention work. This work is carried out together with partner agencies including Violence Reduction Units and communities.
"Hampshire is a safe place to live, and we’re committed to do our best to ensure we continue to tackle and reduce violence as a priority.
"We are aware some young people carry a knife because of the increasing acceptance among their peers. For others they may carry a knife, simply because they are afraid. Trying to reach these individuals, and change their mind-set, is a complex task and requires the efforts of not just the police, but local schools, charities, friends and families, and prominent members of the community.
"We must ensure that young people know that carrying a knife, even if they have no intention of using it, is a crime and can increase the likelihood of suffering an injury or facing a criminal record."
If you are concerned about someone you know carrying a knife or weapon, you can report it to police or you can give information anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or by using an anonymous online form, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.