Cheshire Constabulary is primed to support a national campaign to take knives off the streets and educate people about the dangers of carrying weapons.
Held next week – from Monday 9 November to Sunday 15 November – Operation Sceptre aims to reduce the impact of knife crime in communities.
Cheshire has one of the lowest rates of knife crime in England and statistics show that the number of knife-related offences committed in the county decreased by just over 15 per cent from September 2019 to September 2020.
The force is determined to further reduce the number of knives carried on Cheshire’s streets.
Cheshire Constabulary has a multi-faceted approach to tackling knife crime as it endeavours to achieve weapons-free streets throughout the county.
Chief Inspector Sarah Heath, who is the force’s knife crime lead, said: “Nationally knife crime is a growing problem and the week-long Operation Sceptre campaign is an initiative that Cheshire Constabulary is always more than happy to support.
“However, knife crime is an issue that the force tackles throughout the year, with officers working day and night to protect communities.
“We take knife crime extremely seriously and are proud of the fact that Cheshire has a lower rate of knife crime than most other counties in England.
“When people carry knives it is only a matter of time before someone suffers life changing injuries or is killed, and if you carry a knife then you are much more likely to be involved in a knife crime.
“At Cheshire Constabulary we have a structured prepare, protect, pursue and prevent approach to tackling knife crime that involves various partner agencies, including local authorities, education providers, health authorities, third sector organisations, youth representatives and community groups.
“We work together to achieve long-term change by educating young people about the dangers and futility of carrying weapons.
“We make sure they 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 and having a criminal record.
“We also steer them away from criminality and offer them attractive alternative ways to spend their time.”
With the country in lockdown again as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the work that can be done during Operational Sceptre next week is restricted.
Planned knife surrenders, community knife sweeps and school visits in Cheshire have had to be postponed in accordance with government guidelines, but plans remain in place to pursue offenders.
Chief Inspector Heath added: “The current climate is presenting difficulties for everyone, but it will not stop us from continuing our work to tackle offenders and protect the people of Cheshire.
“We will continue to stop and search anyone suspected of carrying a weapon and to use all of the powers at our disposal to combat weapon enabled crime.
“Plans are also in place to execute warrants related to knife crime and to pay warning visits to people believed to be habitual knife carriers.
“Our goal is to achieve weapons-free streets throughout the county and we endeavour – through education, awareness and action – to make Cheshire an area where no-one carries a knife or feels that there is a reason to do so.
“However, the police cannot achieve this goal on our own. Knife crime is a societal problem that cannot be solved without the support of the whole society.
“If you have any information regarding knife crimes or those who carry weapons please let us know.
“If you know someone who carries a knife then reporting it to the police could be enough to save a life.”
Retailers also have an important role to play, by helping to ensure that weapons are not falling into the wrong hands. They are urged to have robust controls on the sale of blades, such as kitchen knives.
It is illegal to sell a knife to anyone under the age of 18, and anyone found carrying a knife in public, without a reasonable excuse, faces a prison sentence.
David Keane, police and crime commissioner for Cheshire, said: “We’ve seen a number of tragic cases in Cheshire over recent years in which young people in our communities have, sadly, lost their lives to knife crime.
“The lives of too many families in Cheshire have been torn apart as a result of knife crime.
“It’s important to remember that carrying a knife doesn’t make you safer, it increases the risk of you being involved in a violent crime.
“I’m committed to working with Cheshire Constabulary and our communities to reduce the number of dangerous weapons on our streets, and to educate people about the dangers of knife crime.
“I urge anyone with information about those who carry such weapons to come forward in confidence and report it.”
To report any type of crime involving weapons call Cheshire Constabulary on 101, or 999 in an emergency.
Information can also be passed to the force online via https://www.cheshire.police.uk/ro/report.
Anyone who knows someone that carries a knife can report it to Crimestoppers anonymouslyon 0800 555 111 or via https://crimestoppers-uk.org/give-information/forms/give-information-anonymously.