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Op Sceptre results in 311 fewer weapons on the streets of Avon and Somerset

Operation Sceptre took place from Monday 16 May to Sunday 22 May 2022
Operation Sceptre took place from Monday 16 May to Sunday 22 May 2022

Operation Sceptre, a national police campaign intensifying efforts to tackle knife crime, took place from Monday 16 May to Sunday 22 May 2022, resulting in 311 fewer weapons on the streets of Avon and Somerset.

A range of weapons were surrendered into knife bins located across the region, as well as being recovered in sweeps of open spaces and arrests of suspects.

Through engagement and education in 26 schools and 14 community events, 3,500 people gained a greater understanding of the dangers of knife crime and how to stay safe, while police listened to thoughts and concerns, including from many young people.

Police also continued their ongoing work with partners to recognise the vulnerability of many people caught up in carrying knives and help them to access support.

Ahead of Op Sceptre, Avon and Somerset Police cadets and leaders, police officers and police community support officers (PCSOs) carried out the largest test purchase operation of its kind in the country on a single day, test purchasing the sale of bladed articles to under-18’s at 120 retail sites across the region.  Of these, 29 retailers (24 per cent) failed in their legal obligations.  Two – who have now failed twice – face prosecution, while others will have police intervention to ensure they comply with the law and keep young people safe.

The twice-yearly operation involves all 43 police forces in England and Wales and British Transport Police and builds on the prevention and enforcement work police carry out all year round to combat knife crime.  Across the whole operation officers seized 1,074 knives and 8,401 were surrendered or seized during weapon sweeps. 

Police officers searched open spaces across Avon and Somerset for knifes during Op Sceptre

Avon and Somerset Police’s tactical lead for knife crime, Inspector Mike Vass, said: “The value of taking knives and other weapons off our streets cannot be underestimated.  Any of those seized, found or surrendered could have fallen into the wrong hands and been used in threats or serious violence.  In worst case scenarios, they could have been used to take other lives, bringing untold grief and trauma to the loved ones of victims – and perpetrators – and changing their lives forever.

“Avon and Somerset Police has taken part in Op Sceptre every year since 2016 and we view it as an important week of action which complements our year-round work.  We are taking robust and ongoing enforcement to deter the carrying of knives, disrupt the activities of those intent on using weapons in criminal activity and bring perpetrators to justice. 

“Colleagues from many parts of our organisation have worked together to carry out this latest successful operation which we know has made a real difference in working to protect the public from harm.  We thank the public for the part they have played in engaging with us on the dangers of knife crime, disposing of weapons in knife surrender bins and sharing information with us around where knives are being carried, used and stored.  We ask them to continue doing so, as our work doesn’t stop when the week of action ends.”

Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset Mark Shelford said: “A massive well done to the team who worked on Op Sceptre and their hard work in removing knives and other weapons from our communities. 

“My first priority in my Police and Crime Plan is preventing and fighting crime, and the proactive and robust nature of Op Sceptre is a brilliant example of the type of work needed to deliver this priority and keep communities safe.

“I know Avon and Somerset Police conduct such work all year around and continue to intervene and prevent serious violence through engagement, education and enforcement. Such work is supported by the Violence Reduction Units, which sees the organisation and other partners working together to divert young people away from serious violence, including knife crime, and ensure those at risk of being harm are safeguarded.”

Knife crime surrender bins are located across Avon and Somerset, including new installations outside of Bath and Wellington police stations, enabling the anonymous disposal of weapons at any time.  Since 2016 just under 4,000 weapons have been surrendered to police in this way.  A list of locations and more information about knife crime can be found online at: Protect yourself and others from knife crime | Avon and Somerset Police

Reports and information can be submitted by calling police on 101 (always 999 in an emergency).  It can also be given anonymously by calling the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111 or visiting the website www.crimestoppers-uk.org where there may be a reward if information given leads to a positive result.  Non-judgemental information and advice about crime and criminality and a safe place to anonymously report is also available from Fearless, www.fearless.org, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Knife crime includes any crimes that involve the use of a sharpened weapon or blade. It is illegal to sell a knife to or buy a knife from anyone who is under 18 years old.  Self-protection is not a reasonable excuse for carrying a weapon and possession of a knife carries a prison sentence of up to 4 years (5 years in Scotland) even if it’s not used.