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Operation Sceptre results (November 2023)

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Thames Valley Police has released the results of its operational activity and the knife amnesty during last week’s Operation Sceptre, the national week of action to tackle knife crime.

Held twice a year, in May and November, the week sees police increase their proactive and preventative approaches, while across the wider partnership organisations and communities, work together to deliver education and raise awareness of the dangers of knife crime.

Tackling knife crime and serious violence is a force priority. All recorded knife crime is trending down 4% when comparing 1 October 2022 – 31 October 2023 with the same period for the year before.

  • Throughout the week, officers conducted nearly 1,200 high visibility patrols in known hotspots for violence, using the Hotspots Policing App on their mobile phones – the only force in the country using such technology to put officers in the right places at the right times.
  • Over 110 test purchase operations were run in partnership with local community youth groups and Trading Standards, testing retailers ensure age-verification before selling knives. Twenty seven retailers failed and received penalties.
  • Officers made visits to those known to carry knives or be involved in violence to give advice and remind that any offending will lead to arrest, while also offering support if someone feels they need help.
  • Known offenders were targeted, appropriately using powers such as Stop & Search. Forty arrests were made and 12 knives were seized as a result.
  • Officers, PCSOs and staff participated in 70 education sessions, visiting schools and running engagement events to raise awareness of the dangers of knives and exploitation.
  • The knife amnesty bins, which are permanently installed across the Thames Valley, resulted in 337 knives being handed in for safe disposal. Broken down as follows:
  • Milton Keynes: 32
  • Oxfordshire: 62
  • Buckinghamshire: 136
  • Berkshire: 107

Superintendent Lewis Prescott-Mayling, Strategic Lead for Serious Violence Reduction, Thames Valley Police, said: “Once again we have seen some good results from our intensification of activity during the week, as well as some great partnership work focused on earlier intervention and prevention.

“Our policing approach is to target places and people.

“We put our resources into those areas where we know violence occurs, with high visibility policing to act as a deterrent. And for hot people – those who we know are involved in knife crime or other associated offences such as drugs supply – we use all of our powers to apply pressure, disrupt them and where necessary arrest and put them before the courts.

“The knife amnesty bins are always available to anyone – no details are taken, no questions are asked. If you have a weapon, now is the time to get rid of it. Don’t put yourself at risk of prosecution and most importantly, don’t put yourself or others at risk of harm.”

Matthew Barber, Police & Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley, said: “Tackling serious violence and the scourge of knife crime remains a high priority.

“Thanks to the strong policing action being taken together with partnership education, early intervention and prevention efforts led by the Violence Reduction Unit, we are having an effect and knife crime continues to fall here in the Thames Valley.

“However, there is still much that we must do together to stop the tragic incidents that ruin lives and spread fear in our communities. Operation Sceptre is just one week, but here in the Thames Valley we maintain this focus right throughout the year.”

  • If you are scared – ask for help, speak to someone you trust – if not a family member, a teacher or youth worker. Carrying a weapon will never make you safer.
  • Parents: Speak to your children, ensure they know the legal consequences and the dangers of carrying a knife. Encourage them to ask for support if they need it.
  • If you have information or concerns about someone involved in knife crime, speak up – it may save a life. If not to police, then you can 100% anonymously to Crimestoppers Fearless. You do not need to give your name and there is no contact with the police.
  • Since a change in legislation, many weapons are now illegal to hold even if just kept at home. Dispose of knives and other prohibited items by using an amnesty bin in most police station reception areas. No questions asked.