Twenty arrests during week-long anti knife crime operation
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Operation Sceptre formed part of a national campaign aimed at reducing knife crime by targeting those carrying weapons and disrupt the supply of knives available to use.
In all, 10 knives were seized by officers, 20 knives were recovered during 15 knife sweeps across the county and a total of 370 knives were recorded in the knife surrender bins around Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.
As part of the week, officers conducted a knife sweep in the New Parks area of Leicester and visited habitual knife carriers across the city and county. Knife arches were deployed in several locations, including Leicester and Loughborough train stations, working in connection with the British Transport Police
Officers also conducted proactive patrols and a number of stop and search activity where appropriate.
Working closely with the Violence Reduction Network and local partners a number of engagement activities were conducted with young people.
Officers supported local community colleges with anti-knife and drug events and were out on patrol alongside youth workers.
The VRN launched its new Mentors in Violence Prevention programme in a number of schools, the programme aims to empower and equip secondary school students to play their role in helping to prevent violence.
Online, officers conducted digital knife crime awareness sessions, these were hosted virtually and attended by 6,559 students and 322 professionals across 26 establishments.
The workshops acted as forum for pupils and teachers to discuss aspects that lead to potential knife carrying and explore preventative measures, advice and support.
T/Detective Superintendent Michelle Keen, of Leicestershire Police’s Violent Complex Crime Unit, said: “This was part of a national campaign and given the Covid-19 guidelines, some operation activity has had to be scaled back.
“Despite this we are pleased to have been able to reach so many young people with our lives not knives messages, we have achieved this by working cross-functionally as a force but also through our continued collaboration with partners and the Violence Reduction Network in our joint commitment to tackle violent crime.
“We were keen to continue this operation and show those who carry knives that this remains a force priority and will not be tolerated.
“If you are looking for help and support, we want to emphasise that change is possible and there are resources available to adults and young people through our website. If you are a concerned family member or friend there are is also information on our website to help you, including multi-lingual flyers and a 10 step guide to starting a conversation with a young person.
“Carrying a knife, even for protective purposes, puts you at greater risk of becoming a victim yourself.”
Earlier this month 33-year-old Carlos Racitalal was jailed after being convicted of four counts of attempted murder.
Each count related to a separate incident in Leicester – and three of those involved victims being stabbed.
He was also convicted of three counts of possession of a bladed article.
Racitlal was handed four life imprisonment sentences and must serve a minimum term of 22 years and six months.
Detective Chief Inspector Chris Baker, Head of the Complex Investigations Team which led the case, said: “The four life sentences that Carlos Racitalal received reflect the seriousness of the offences against vulnerable victims and the danger he presented to the public. He chose his victims apparently at random and without motive. The police response and investigation ensured that he was quickly identified and arrested before he had opportunity to offend again.
“Serial offenders like Racitalal are very rare. I am deeply grateful to the community for their support and vigilance throughout this investigation and I am pleased that Leicestershire Police achieved justice not only for the victims and their families, but for the wider community who were so affected by these shocking attacks.”
T/Chief Inspector Manjit Atwal, who leads the force’s response to knife crime, added: “Whilst our knife crime figures are down year on year we will continue to do everything we can to catch offenders and deal with them appropriately. Ultimately, knife crime will not be tolerated on our streets.”
Lord Willy Bach, Leicestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “Despite the current operational challenges resulting from Covid-19 Operation Sceptre proved a big success, highlighting the determination of the police and partners to really tackle knife crime. However, while last week’s action delivered tangible outcomes the work must, and to be fair does, continue all year round.
“We need long-term improvements and my focus has always been on prevention activity and to do this we must address the root causes of knife-related harm. The focus needs to be on early child development and early intervention and that’s why I set up the Violence Reduction Network. It’s a little over a year since the launch, so I’m proud to see its ambitious and innovative approaches, which I’m confident will change the mind-set of our young people and that of future generations, beginning to show positive results.”