Merseyside Police secures 44 SVROs in first six months of pilot

Merseyside Police has issued 44 Serious Violence Reduction Orders (SVROs) during first six months of knife crime pilot.

Oct 18, 2023
By Paul Jacques

The initiative involves targeted stop and search of high-risk offenders who have been convicted of an offence involving a bladed article or knife.

The force has been working alongside the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) on the pilot which launched in April.

The court can make a SVRO when an adult (aged 18 or over) is convicted of an offence involving a bladed article or offensive weapon.

The force and Merseyside CPS were the first in the country to issue an order in June, to a woman who pleaded guilty to possessing an offensive weapon in a public place.

Since then, Merseyside Police said it has continued to use these additional powers to tackle high-risk offenders, known weapons carriers and help drive down reoffending to keep communities safe.

Twenty-seven people issued a SVRO are currently serving, or have served, custodial sentences for knife crime offences totalling more than 23 years, while six arrests have been made for breaches of a SVRO.

SVROs form part of Merseyside Police’s dedicated Operation Target to tackle serious violence and knife crime. Alongside open land searches, search warrants and stop searches, the force works closely with partners to prevent serious violence in communities.

“This robust, long-term approach has seen knife crime reduce by 11 per cent and serious violent crime reduce by nine per cent this financial year (April 2023 to September 2023), along with further reductions in the previous year,” it said.

Merseyside Police is one of four forces trialling the introduction of the post-conviction powers, alongside Thames Valley, West Midlands and Sussex.

The SVRO pilot is running for two years before a decision is made on a national roll-out.

Superintendent Phil Mullally, Merseyside’s lead for serious violence and knife crime, said: “We remain committed to targeting those who choose to carry weapons on our streets and bring them to justice. The launch of SVROs in April has given us another tool to target high-risk offenders who have been convicted of an offence involving a bladed article or knife.

“Six months in, SVROs are being used to keep the pressure on those who persist in unlawfully carrying knives in Merseyside and prevent further violence. Officers are proactively monitoring individuals with live SVROs and undertaking stop searches when they are in a public place. Early evidence suggests that the orders are acting as a deterrent to carrying a knife, given that we have the automatic right to search them when in a public place.

“While we have seen knife crime and serious violence decrease, we are not complacent and know that one incident is one too many. My message to anyone carrying a knife is simple. Don’t do it. If you do, you will be arrested, charged, and remanded to court, where we will apply for a SVRO against you.”

District Crown Prosecutor Mandy Nepal, the lead on SVROs in CPS Mersey-Cheshire, said: “Knife crime ruins lives, and it is not just habitual offenders who end up being caught in these fatally violent situations. If a knife is removed from a heated exchange because people are more reluctant to carry them due to a protective order, then the community is a safer place.

“Joint working with Merseyside Police has been key to the pilot running smoothly. I contributed to regular stakeholder meetings to ensure that we were all ready for the pilot – these were extremely valuable and facilitated strong collaborative working.

“We’ve continued to work closely together to ensure the new measures are being implemented appropriately – a real shared understanding has been built which has made both prosecutors and officers feel confident with the process.”

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