OFFICERS across the Midlands will be focusing on catching those using and carrying knives and educating young people to tackle the growing number of incidents.
The week-long campaign, which Staffordshire Police is taking part in, is part of the national Operation Sceptre campaign from 12-16 February, will see lots of proactive activity to tackle knife crime in the county.
Sadly Staffordshire is like nearly all forces in the UK, with a repeated rise in knife crime year-on-year. In the last 12 months, Staffordshire saw a 15.7% increase in knife crimes, with a 30% increase the year before.
Staffordshire Police say that during the week you will see high visibility patrols in areas where knife crime is more common, increased stop checks and stop searches where powers allow, and schools and youth groups will be visited by officers to talk about the dangers of knife crime and how you can respond to a knife injury.
Superintendent Ricky Fields, head of operational services at Staffordshire Police, said: “We tackle the issue of knives every week of the year, but we are hopeful that this week we can help to stop the increasing trend of knife crime in Staffordshire and further afield.
“There will be lots of positive action from us and partners across the county to demonstrate how dangerous knives are and the consequences of carrying them, using them or just being in a group of people that use them.
“If you know someone that chooses to use or carry a knife, please call 101 in confidence or, for guaranteed anonymity, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”
Neighbouring force, West Midlands Police will also be taking part in the campaign where officers will work with the Border Force to intercept weapons that have been shipped in internationally after being brought on the internet.
Undercover operations designed to root out shops that sell blades to children are also being launched.
Supt Ian Parnell, West Midlands Police’s lead on knife crime, said: “We fully understand the public concern around increases in knife crime, and that’s why we’re putting a lot of effort in to reducing it and taking those who think it’s acceptable to carry blades.
“One knife-related crime is one too many. The consequences of carrying knives can be catastrophic. We’ve seen people suffer very serious injuries, while offenders can expect to spend many years behind bars.
“If we look at the level of knife crime across the area we can see that although the statistics have increased recently – mirroring the national picture – it comes following a considerable decline leading up to the last few years. Nevertheless, there is still much work to do.
“The people we find most often in possession of a knife in public are young men aged between 15 and 19. A common excuse we hear is that it’s for their ‘protection’ – but that is a total fallacy and it’s shocking how many times young men are seriously hurt by the very knife they are carrying.
“If you carry or use a knife you are likely to be arrested and prosecuted and, if found guilty, likely to face a substantial prison sentence.”