OVER 7,500 KNIVES HAVE BEEN SEIZED and surrendered as part of a coordinated effort to tackle knife crime across England and Wales.

Between Monday 26 April and Sunday 2 May, police officers arrested 2,131 people as part of Operation Sceptre, with 604 of those relating specifically to knife crime.

National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for knife crime, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Graham McNulty, said: “Knife crime can have a devastating impact on communities across the country and we are doing all we can to remove weapons from our streets, target those carrying knives and prevent young people being drawn into violence.

“Enforcement is a crucial part of what we do but understanding the root causes and bringing in others outside of policing to help people is extremely important. We can’t tackle this alone. Police forces come up with ways to target knife crime during this week of action on top of work they do all year round. Families are affected by knife crime every single day and we want our communities to feel safe and prevent these incidents from happening in the first place.

“If anyone has any concerns about someone they know who might be carrying a knife, or involved in knife crime, please have the courage to speak to us before it’s too late or contact the charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

Commenting on the initiative, Mark Russell, Chief Executive at The Children’s Society, said: “Knife crime shatters young lives and while action to make the streets safer is important, for this to be sustainable it must go hand in hand with a focus upon understanding why children are carrying knives.

“Many young people tell us they carry knives not as a lifestyle choice but for protection and because they are living in fear. Some are groomed and exploited to traffic drugs in county lines operations and they may be in possession of knives because they have been coerced to threaten rival organised crime groups.

“Finding a young person carrying a knife presents police with a golden opportunity to find out why they are doing so, identify risks like child criminal exploitation and help these children to access support.

“The National Police Chiefs Council’s pledge to work with other agencies to understand the reasons for children’s behaviour is welcome. Too often, young people are arrested and criminalised rather than getting the help they need to stay safe and reduce the likelihood of them carrying knives in future.

“We would urge the Government to encourage a sharp focus upon disrupting the activities of criminals who cynically exploit vulnerable children and on safeguarding these children by using the new Policing Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill to introduce a definition in law of child criminal exploitation for the first time.

“Ministers must also do far more to reverse years of huge cuts to early intervention and youth services, ensuring children who could be at risk get early support.”

* Sources: The Children’s Society and NPCC.