TACKLING knife crime and getting weapons off our streets will be the focus for Essex Police during a national crackdown, called Operation Sceptre, which starts today, Monday, 11 March.
Operation Sceptre is a week of action that will see all 44 forces in England and Wales, including Essex Police, building on the current work officers are doing to tackle serious violence.
In Essex, Operation Sceptre will kick off a longer period of action designed to target knife crime.
A spokesperson said: “We deal with knife-related crime every day through a combination of enforcement, education and partnership work, and we’ll be highlighting this ongoing work throughout the week.
During the crackdown the force will also target those carrying knives with the intention to use them to commit crime or cause harm.
Action taking place during Op Sceptre will include:
Weapons sweeps to find weapons that criminals may have hidden for later use.
High visibility patrols and intelligence-led stop checks.
Joint patrols with British Transport Police and the use of knife arches at some of the county’s train stations to disrupt criminals using the railway network.
Knife crime awareness events with our community safety partnership colleagues and charities such as Only Cowards Carry.
Working with schools, colleges, and youth organisations to educate children and young people about the dangers of carrying knives.
Working with Trading Standards teams to raise awareness among shop owners about the importance of challenging underage customers and the law around selling knives and bladed objects.
Nationally, the latest figures from the ONS show an eight per cent rise in the number of offences involving knives or sharp weapons, taking the figure to its highest level since comparable data began to be collected in 2011.
In Essex there was a 35 per cent increase in violence against the person offences for the 12-months to the end of January 2019 with 54,064 offences compared with 40,032 for the same period the previous year.
The county also saw a 12.6 per cent increase in the number of possession of weapon offences with 2,014 offences in the 12-months to January 2019 compared with 1,868 for the same period the previous year.
Essex Police’s Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Paul Wells said: “Sadly, we’ve seen an increase in knife nationally and an increase in violent crime here in Essex – and I understand this affects how safe people feel.
“However, it’s also important to note that less than eight people in every 1,000 here in Essex will be a victim of a violent crime with injury.
“Driving down violent crime remains one of our top priorities, but tackling the underlying issues is complex and is a battle that we as a community must fight together.
“We know knife and violent crime is closely associated with gangs and drugs, but also with domestic abuse.
“Those who are involved in gangs or organised crime carry knives and other weapons because of the threat of violence that hangs over them. Arresting them is not always a deterrent.
“We need to educate our children about whether that’s the kind of life they want to lead – carrying weapons, always looking over their shoulder and being not only at risk of getting hurt but facing the consequences of hurting someone else.
“Tackling knife crime involves more than just enforcement. It is a community responsibility, which is why we work with other organisations within the criminal justice system, our community safety partnerships, charities, schools and community groups to try and educate people to prevent knife crime happening in the first place.
“Information is also really key. If you know someone who carries a weapon or have information about drugs or gangs, for example, tell us.
“We can then take action against those people.”
We also encourage young people worried about knife crime to find out about Fearless.org.
For more information about knife crime in Essex, visit www.essex.police.uk/knifecrime