PCC welcomes additional powers for officers to tackle knife crime

Sussex police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne says the rollout of serious violence reduction orders (SVROs) from Wednesday (April 19) will allow police to “identify, challenge and hopefully change behaviours of known knife carriers”.

Apr 18, 2023
By Paul Jacques
Picture: Sussex Police

Sussex Police will be one of four forces taking part in a two-year trial of the new civil court powers alongside Merseyside Police, Thames Valley Police and West Midlands Police.

The SVROs are aimed at tackling knife crime and serious violence, allowing officers to stop, detain and search offenders who have previously been convicted of knife or offensive weapon offences.

They are also designed to help protect high-risk offenders from being drawn into further exploitation by criminal gangs.

Ms Bourne said: “I welcome the SVRO pilot in Sussex as an additional instrument for the police to use to identify, challenge and hopefully change behaviours of known knife and weapon carriers.

“Whilst early intervention, successful working with partners and effective support remain vital for those who have been exploited in criminal gangs, additional powers such as allowing police to stop and search prolific, high-risk offenders subject to a SVRO, could help our communities to be safer places for everyone.

“I will be monitoring the effectiveness of this pilot and receiving regular progress updates from the chief constable.”

A court will be able to issue a SVRO providing the person is at least 18 years old and has been convicted of carrying a knife or bladed article.

“These orders will help to tackle prolific, high-risk offenders by making it easier for police to search them for weapons,” said Sussex Police.

The key elements of a SVRO are:

  • Police officers will have the power to stop and search a person subject to an order to look for knives or offensive weapons;
  • SVROs will apply to offenders aged 18 and over, for a duration of between six months and two years;
  • If an offender is in prison, a SVRO can take effect upon release from prison; and
  • Breach of a SVRO will be a criminal offence punishable by a sentence of up to two years’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine, or both.

Sussex Police says the new orders will build on “the extensive work” which it already does to tackle knife crime and serious violence through Operation Safety, local policing operations, and partnership work with the Sussex Violence Reduction Partnership.

Force lead for Operation Safety, Chief Inspector Simon Yates, said: “Being selected to be one of four forces to pioneer this new scheme is testament to the successful work already being done in Sussex to combat knife crime and serious violence.

“Please be assured, just because Sussex has been selected as one of the force areas to pilot this new scheme, our county remains a safe place to live. Our officers who will be serving the orders will have completed a training package from the College of Policing.

“The pilot will be evaluated using different measures, including the use of SVROs, reoffending, and the outcome for offenders who are subject to a SVRO.”

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