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Avon and Somerset Police take part in national week of action to tackle knife crime

Avon and Somerset Police have embarked on a crucial week of action as they participate in Operation Sceptre from May 13 -19, intensifying efforts to combat knife crime. 

The twice-yearly operation, which is led and co-ordinated by the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC), sees all 43 police forces across England and Wales come together to tackle serious violence. 

Nationally, there has been a continual increase in offences involving knives or sharp objects, indicating a worrying trend. In Avon and Somerset, assaults involving a knife increased by 13 per cent in the final quarter of 2023, with a total of 373 incidents recorded. 

During Operation Sceptre, officers will engage in various activities throughout the force area aimed at prevention, disruption, and enforcement.  

Some of the key tactics include: 

Education Sessions: Together with the Violence Reduction Partnership, delivering sessions in local schools, colleges and youth groups to explain the dangers of carrying a knife and educate people in first aid and what to do if someone is stabbed. 

Targeted Searches: Conducting searches in areas where intelligence indicates weapons may be stored or hidden. 

Community Engagement: Setting up pop-up information stands to increase awareness and understanding within communities. Discussion forums will also be hosted on the Bath Community Reddit Page on Thursday 16 May and Bristol community Reddit page on Tuesday 21 May, providing an opportunity for members of the public to put questions to local officers and learn more about the force’s efforts to tackle knife crime. 

High-Visibility Patrols: Deploying officers in areas of high demand to deter criminal activity and ensure public safety. 

Intelligence-Led Action: Targeting individuals known to be habitual knife carriers. 

Promotion of Weapon Surrender Bins: Encouraging the use of weapon surrender bins across the region to remove knives from circulation. 

The week of action will build upon existing work bring carried out in Avon and Somerset as part of a new proactive operation to tackle knife crime, launched this year in light of a spate of knife attacks which included the fatal stabbings of three Bristol teenagers.  

Mason Rist, 15, and Max Dixon, 16, were stabbed to death in Knowle West on 27 January. Two weeks later on February 14 in an unconnected incident, 16-year-old Darrian Williams died after being attacked in the Easton area of Bristol.  

Chief Inspector Mike Vass, Avon and Somerset Police’s Force Lead for Knife Crime said: 

“In recent months and years, we have seen a number of lives needlessly and senselessly cut short by knife crime, devastating families and communities. We are committed to safeguarding the public by actively enforcing laws to deter knife carrying, disrupting criminal activities, and holding perpetrators accountable. We are taking action against retailers who fail to comply with the law.  

“Our work to reduce serious violence is centred around community feedback, particularly from young voices. We know that some children and young people are purchasing and carrying knives in the belief that it will make them safer, when in fact, the opposite is true.  

“You are more likely to come to harm if you are carrying a knife, and being found in possession of one could lead to years in prison.” 

 A recent undercover operation to test compliance from local retailers on the age-restricted sale of knives revealed that one in eight retailers in the region unlawfully sold knives or bladed articles to underage individuals.  

The operation, which was led Avon and Somerset Police by in collaboration with Trading Standards and volunteer police cadets aged 13 to 17, came just weeks after a letter was sent out to retailers urging them to help them in the fight against knife crime.  

Police will continue to engage with retailers that failed, working in partnership to help them ensure they comply with laws which are in place to safeguard young people.  

Ch Insp. Vass added:

“Tackling knife crime and serious violence is a partnership effort. We are working closely with agencies across the education, health, and social care sectors which together form the Violence Reduction Partnership, to address the driving factors around knife carrying and to provide support and intervention for those who are most at risk of becoming involved in serious violence.” 

Clare Moody, Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset, said: “In this pivotal week of action against knife crime, I am pleased to see Avon and Somerset Police taking proactive steps to address the issue head-on. With every meaningful community interaction, we are carving a path towards safer communities for all.  Knife crime ruins the lives of all of those it touches. These planned police initiatives, combined with the ongoing work of the Violence Reduction Partnerships, are how we create neighbourhoods where everyone is safe.”

In addition to community engagement work, Avon and Somerset Police is expanding its knife surrender bin initiative with two new units recently installed in the St. Pauls and Stapleton Road areas of Bristol, bringing the total number to 19 force wide.  

The bins offer communities a safe means to dispose of weapons and break free from associated risks and consequences. So far, our knife surrender campaign has received over 5000 knives and bladed articles. 

Last year, we also launched a partnership with NHS South West and HeartSafe to install a number of bleed control kits across the whole of Avon and Somerset. These kits are designed to be used in an emergency, in the time between an incident and emergency services arriving on scene. Around 150 kits are now in place, with a further installation taking place in Castle Park, Bristol on Tuesday 21 May. 

If you are worried that someone you know may be carrying a knife, you can speak to them by calling 101 or using the online reporting form. 

Alternatively you can send information 100% anonymously to Fearless, which is the dedicated youth service for Crimestoppers. They cannot track where the information has come from and you will not be contacted by the police. You can send information to Fearless using their online form at www.fearless.org or by calling 0800 555 111. 

If you believe there to be an immediate threat of danger, always call 999 immediately. 

Anyone with information about shops that sell age restricted products to children can report it anonymously via Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133 or by visiting Contact the consumer helpline – Citizens Advice