Staffordshire Police have recovered more than 170 knives as part of a week of action across Staffordshire.
Operation Sceptre, which took place from 15th to 21st May, saw officers intensify their efforts in the fight against knife crime through knife sweeps, stop searches, using knife detectors in public places and the promotion of knife banks for people to surrender them anonymously.
As a result, they made nine arrests and recovered more than 170 knives, including 150 which had been placed in knife banks throughout the week.
The police also took part in 35 educational visits as part of the #DitchTheBlade campaign, which saw officers speaking to 3,000 young people and their parents or carers about the dangers of carrying a knife and the support services available if they feel pressured to carry one.
In addition, Trading Standards teams from Stoke-on-Trent City Council completed test purchase exercises with local retailers to ensure that they were complying with the law so only those who can prove they are over 18 can purchase knives. One store was found to have sold a knife to underage individuals, while eight stores successfully refused to allow them to purchase the blades.
Although it’s not common for young people to carry a knife, national statistics show that 99 per cent of young people aged 10 to 29 don’t carry a knife. Some young people believe that others are carrying one so feel they need to do so. The #DitchTheBlade campaign aims to break through the myths around knife carrying and explain that it’s not normal or acceptable to carry a knife.
Chief Inspector Robert Hessell, force lead for knife crime, said: “It’s vitally important that we continue to encourage conversations around knife crime within our communities.
“This operation builds upon our progress as a partnership to educate young people on the dangers and consequences of carrying a knife and to reduce the number of knives on the streets.
“The majority of young people will never be affected by knife crime, but by encouraging awareness and providing a safe space for the surrender of knives we hope to make our communities a safer place to be.”
A Stoke-on-Trent City Council spokesperson said: “We are encouraged that most of the businesses tested complied with the law. It is absolutely vital that retailers in the city have measures in place to prevent underage sales of knives. Staff should be properly trained to prevent knives getting into the hands of children and to request appropriate identification where there is any doubt as to the age of the purchaser. We will be taking appropriate action against the retailer who failed the operation.
We recognise the importance of supporting Staffordshire Police with Operation Sceptre and its Ditch the Blade campaign. This plays a vital role in keeping our communities safe and we are committed to working with our partners to combat the problem of knife crime.”
Victoria Wilson, Cabinet Member responsible for Trading Standards at Staffordshire County Council said: “Knife crime is a concern for everyone, however, thankfully Staffordshire remains a place where incidents are rare.
“It’s vital that shops selling knives are aware of their responsibilities and our Trading Standards officers provide advice to ensure this happens. The team also carries out test purchases to ensure knives and other age-restricted products are not being sold to anyone under the age of 18.
“We already have high levels of compliance amongst local retailers which is encouraging and we will continue to work with our partners to ensure this remains the case.”
For more information on the #DitchTheBlade campaign, and links to support organisations visit: #DitchTheBlade | Staffordshire Police
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