Thames Valley Police will complete the force-wide roll out of Operation Deter as a part of its fight against knife crime in the next two weeks.
Operation Deter is a zero tolerance approach to knife crime, seeking swift charge and remand decisions to those who carry knives, and has been driven by the force and the Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC), Matthew Barber. It will focus on prosecution, intervention and prevention.
Across the Thames Valley, the police and local partners work closely to tackle serious violence and knife crime. The approach begins with a focus on early intervention and prevention to stop young people being drawn into crime and violence in the first place. Then, the force delivers proactive policing to target the small number of people who carry and use knives and to police these hotspot places where violence occurs. Through Op Deter principles, if intervention and prevention does not work, the force apply robust criminal justice processes to deliver a swift outcome and consequences.
Operation Deter’s main objective is to make better use of charging and remanding offenders aged over 18 to court, sending a robust message to anyone found in possession of a knife.
Matthew Barber said: “Tackling knife crime is a top priority for Thames Valley Police and I want to reassure residents that the possession and carrying of knives will not be tolerated.
“We have been steadily rolling out Op Deter across the Thames Valley, and it will now come into place in South Bucks, Windsor & Maidenhead, Cherwell & West Oxfordshire, South Oxfordshire and Vale and Bracknell & Wokingham local policing areas.
“This tough approach has already shown positive signs since the initial roll-out in Milton Keynes last year.
“I hope to see this trend continue across the whole of the Thames Valley, where we will seek to charge and remand to court those who choose to carry knives.”
The unlawful possession of a knife is covered by Section 139 of the Criminal Justice Act (1988), which is the offence of having an article with a blade or pointed in a public place.
This is an ‘either way’ offence, which carries a maximum sentence of six months’ imprisonment or a fine in the Magistrates’ Court, or up to four years’ imprisonment in the Crown Court.
The key objective of Op Deter is that any knife possession offences are proactively charged and remanded to court by Thames Valley Police while the suspect is still in custody.
Following the charge, the custody sergeant will then take a more robust approach to bail.
This will send a clear message to those routinely carrying a knife in the Thames Valley, that this will simply not be tolerated.
Since its initial launch in Milton Keynes on 1 July 2022, 774 adults have been arrested for simple possession in the areas where Op Deter has come into force.
Of these, 37% have been charged and remanded with 6% charged and bailed – more than 300 cases.