Sixteen people have been arrested, more than 50 knives have been recovered and thousands of pupils have attended workshops - all during a week of activity to help prevent knife crime and pursue those who commit knife-related offences.
Run twice a year by all 43 police forces and the British Transport Police, Operation Sceptre is part of the national effort to help tackle the issue.
During the week, which ran from Monday 14 November to Sunday 20 November, Leicestershire Police focused on its ongoing work to try to prevent knife crime by continuing to educate young people on the dangers and consequences of carrying a knife, as well as pursuing those who carry knifes and use them to commit crime.
The educational workshops, run by the force’s Children and Young Persons Officer Katie Hudson, were delivered in 16 secondary schools with another 13 being held online – reaching a total of 7,181 young people and 344 teachers and other professionals.
Forming part of the ‘We Don’t Carry #LivesNotKnives’ campaign, designed in partnership with the Violence Reduction Network (VRN), the workshops focus on helping young people to understand some of the facts around knife crime, as well as providing them with where to go for further support and information. All of which can be found on the LiveSafe website.
As part of enforcement activity, officers arrested sixteen men and women aged between 18-46. Ten have since been charged with a total of 15 offences – including possession of a bladed article and also drug-related crimes.
Knife sweeps were also carried out in a number of parks across the force area - resulting in 11 knives being recovered and destroyed. Another 42 knives were also recovered through the use of amnesty bins. Knife arches were also used in areas of high footfall, such as train stations and town centres.
In a joint operation between the police and trading standards to crackdown on knives being sold to people under the age of 18, 13 shops were also visited by an underage test purchaser. Two of them failed to question the young person’s age and sold them a knife.
Detective Chief Inspector Jim Hatton from Leicestershire Police’s Violent and Complex Crime Unit, said: “It is fantastic to see great results from Op Sceptre and I am delighted we have taken 53 knives off the streets which can never be used as a weapon to threaten or harm anyone.
Alongside our enforcement work, we have seen an incredible response during our community engagements and workshops delivered in schools, which really highlights the importance of working with the community to prevent knife crime together.
“Our #LivesNotKnives campaign featured heavily across social media throughout the week and I encourage parents and teachers to visit the Live Safe website for further advice and support if they believe their child or someone they know might be carrying a knife.
“I would like to give thanks to our supporting partners especially Trading Standards, who have supported our test purchasing operations. While eleven shops refused to sell a knife to our test purchaser there were two shops who did. I would like to remind shopkeepers to know their legal obligations when it comes to selling knives and they can expect to be tested again. A second failure could lead to prosecution.
“Our work against knife crime continues as we progress different projects with our partners, such as the Violence Reduction Network’s Violence Intervention Project and Leicestershire Police’s Street Outreach Project. These projects focus on helping young people at a ‘reachable moment’ either in police custody, hospital or in hot-spot policing areas. Enforcement is of course important, but is also one of many strands attached to the wider work seen throughout the year to prevent knives from being carried in the first place.”
Rupert Matthews, Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “Once again, this year, I have to give the team who worked on Op Spectre a big thank you. Their hard work and efforts in removing knives and other harmful weapons from our communities exemplify classic proactive policing that will have far-reaching benefits for everyone across our city and counties. Thanks to work undertaken by Leicestershire Police, there will be fewer harmful weapons, fewer violent incidents and a message to those who would cause harm that Leicestershire Police will not stand idly by and allow violence to rule our streets.
“The principle aim of any police force is to prevent crime, and Op Spectre is a perfect example of how this type of work can be effective, swift and keep communities safe.
“I must note that I know Leicestershire Police conduct this sort of work all year round and are constantly vigilant. But I’m glad that this week I can formally and appropriately recognise their committed and professional work. This week of action is undertaken every year, and it exemplifies a modern, effective and preventative police force.
“I must also speak about the excellent work of our Violence Reduction Network and other partners. They support the prevention work through initiatives that educate and divert young people away from serious violence and the need to carry weapons.
“Thank you to all involved. You have done a great service to our region, and it cannot be understated how important it is that these weapons will now not fall into the wrong hands.”
Posted on Thursday 24th November 2022