Almost 10,000 knives seized by police during latest crackdown under Operation Sceptre

Almost 10,000 knives were taken off the streets in in a week-long crackdown by police forces across England and Wales.

May 26, 2023
By Paul Jacques
Picture: MPS

In total, 9,737 knives were seized and 1,693 people arrested as part of Operation Sceptre, the national police initiative to tackle knife crime.

Of those arrested, 829 were related to knife crime offences.

Operation Sceptre, which took place last week between May 15 May and May 21, brings together all 43 police forces across England and Wales in a week of intensified action, with forces coordinating activity that targets knife crime from the root cause right through to enforcement.

A variety of other tactics were used by forces, including weapons sweeps, engagement with schools and local communities, knife arches in public places and events and knife surrender bins to remove knives off the streets.

Commander Stephen Clayman, National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) knife crime lead, said: “There is a lot of fantastic work taking place across police forces to tackle knife crime and Op Sceptre is a great opportunity to both highlight and showcase the difference this work is making.

“Knife crime remains a complex issue and is not a problem which policing can tackle alone and it’s been really positive to see all the different examples where we are working in collaboration with partner organisations to address some of the root causes and support young people in making informed choices.

“As well as early intervention, we are working with Government to review knife crime legislation with an ongoing consultation around proposals which includes strengthening police powers to seize knives, banning the sale of the most dangerous types of knives and increasing penalties both for those selling to underage buyers and for anyone carrying a knife with the intention of endangering life.

“The consultation is still open and I’d encourage everyone to take part and have their say. This is an ongoing mission and one which needs collective ambition, energy and patience.”

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: “This week’s crackdown has taken thousands of knives off the streets, along with the criminals who carry them.

“Knife crime remains a blight in our neighbourhoods, but I’m confident the police, working with schools and communities will help deter people from carrying these weapons. The Government’s consultation to outlaw knives currently not banned is still open on, and I would urge the public to submit their responses.”

In London, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) made 468 arrests and seized 170 knives as part of the operation.

Chief Inspector Rob Ranstead, who led Operation Sceptre for the MPS, said: “Knife crime completely destroys families and brings misery to our communities. The results from this operation highlight the Met’s commitment to tackling violent crime and I’m convinced that with 170 knives taken off London’s streets, we have prevented further injuries – and perhaps even fatal stabbings – from occurring.

“Operation Sceptre is an intensification of the work officers carry out every single day and although this week of activity has concluded, be assured that our officers will continue to be out on the streets every day, using every tactic available to prevent violence.

“Policing alone can’t solve knife crime or violence and I am grateful to our partners and community members that worked closely alongside us during this week of enhanced activity, as they do on any given day, to make London safer for everyone. We must all work together – the responsibility lies with us all to bear down on knife crime and violence.”

Policing Minister Chris Philp said: “We will continue to support police forces taking strong action against people who sell, buy and carry dangerous knives.”

The NPCC said youth engagement formed a “significant part” of the week, helping young people to move away from violence and involvement in gang activity.

The week of action also focused on education and engagement with members of the public and retailers which sell knives.

In total, 2,810 school engagement visits took place alongside nearly 2,000 community or educational events, with officers visiting more than 2,000 retailers to talk about the sale of knives.

Of 670 test purchases made, 17 per cent (114) resulted in failures.

“Retailers who fail test purchases can be given education and advice and around the regulations when selling knives or prosecuted in some circumstances,” said the NPCC.

As part of Operation Sceptre, the police worked closely with HM Prison Service in a coordinated effort to tackle violence in prisons, with an intelligence-led operation, targeting those carrying weapons and disrupting the supply of knives/bladed articles available to use. Across seven prisons, 66 cells and 77 inmates were searched and 18 weapons were found and seized.

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