Leicestershire Police has carried out 42 knife sweeps; 47 test purchasing operations; recovered 329 knives; arrested 25 people and held online workshops for more than 7,500 secondary school pupils during a national week of action targeting knife crime
‘Operation Sceptre’ is about education and enforcement designed to educate young people about the dangers and consequences of carrying a knife; target those who carry weapons and disrupt the sale and supply of knives. It runs twice a year and ran from Monday 16 May 2022 to Sunday 22 May 2022.
The force’s Children and Young Persons Officer, Katie Hudson, and Substance Misuse Officer, James Edmondston, held 11 workshops across the week presenting to 7576 young people and 315 teachers/professionals from 20 schools. Across the 2021/22 academic year knife crime awareness workshops have been delivered to 40 educational establishments reaching a total of 710 professionals and 17,885 young people between the ages of 12-18 years old. The huge response to the workshops reflects how keen schools across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland are to work with the police to discourage young people from picking up a knife.
Beat teams also visited their local secondary schools to engage with young people and answer their questions. Some teams took a knife arch to show young people one of the ways officers can detect people carrying something metal. They were also deployed in parks, train stations and under passes.
The Head of Secondary at Avanti Fields School in Hamilton, Nisha Kholia, emailed their local beat officer; “Thank you to you and your colleague for taking time to visit our school and hold an information stand. The student feedback has been really positive and appreciated the opportunity to talk to you both, ask questions and find out more. We look forward to inviting you back to our school soon.”
In a joint operation between the police and trading standards, 47 shops that were visited by an underage test purchaser. Eleven shop workers failed to question the young person’s age and sold them a knife.
The force’s We Don’t Carry #LivesNotKnives online campaign, designed in partnership with the Violence Reduction Network (VRN) reached over 800,000 people across digital and social media channels. Officers gave out hundreds of information leaflets to young people and adults giving advice on where and how to get help and referring them to a new website LiveSafe
Detective Chief Inspector Gavin Drummond, from Leicestershire Police’s Violent and Complex Crime Unit, said: “We’ve had another very successful Op Sceptre and I am delighted we have taken 329 knives off our streets which can never be used to threaten or harm anyone. The week is as much about awareness and engagement as it is about enforcement and we have had an incredible response to our online workshops and our new social media campaign aimed at young people.
“I was a little disappointed to see that eleven of the forty-seven shops we visited sold a knife to our test purchaser who was under the age of 18. Shopkeepers should know their legal obligations when it comes to selling knives and can expect to be tested again. A second failure could lead to prosecution.
“We’ve also worked with partners and different projects designed and commissioned by the VRN, for example, the Violence Intervention Project at the Leicester Royal Infirmary and in our custody suites which reaches out to victims of violence at a key moment in their lives to help them make better decisions. Enforcement is of course important too but if we can work with our partners to stop people carrying a knife in the first place that would be the perfect result.”
Rupert Matthews, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, said; “Thank you to Leicestershire Police for taking yet more knives off our streets. It’s at times like this when we realise that we still have a long way to go to eradicate knife crime. We need to drive down violent crime, including knife crime, to save lives and stop the pain suffered by bereaved families.
“We owe it to victims to support the police in their endeavours and that’s what I intend to do. whether it’s preventative work or ensuring officers have the confidence to tackle violent criminals, I will support them however I can.”