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More than 200 knives recovered across Avon and Somerset as part of Operation Sceptre

Knife Surrender bin on Stapleton Road, Bristol

More than 200 knives were taken off the streets of Avon and Somerset last week (13-19 May) as part of the national policing week of action against knife crime and serious violence, Operation Sceptre.

The twice-yearly operation, led and co-ordinated by the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC), aims to deter people from carrying knives through prevention, disruption and enforcement tactics, alongside community engagement to educate the public about the risks and consequences of carrying a weapon.

School visits, weapons sweeps searching undergrowth and public spaces for any discarded or hidden knives and installing new community bleed kits were just some of the actions that took place.

Results included:

  • 73 weapon sweeps, recovering four knives
  • 234 knives recovered from seven weapon surrender bins
  • Eight stop and searches carried out seizing two knives
  • One knife-related arrest, seizing one knife
  • Two search warrants carried out, recovering two knives
  • 42 community engagement and awareness events delivered
  • 53 school engagements, delivering knife-crime awareness sessions
  • Six diversion visits to young people identified and linked to carrying knives
  • 43 retailer visits advising of laws and safety around knife sales
  • One new community bleed kit installed in Castle Park, Bristol
  • Two new weapon surrender bins installed in the St. Pauls and Stapleton Road areas of Bristol.
Bleed Kit in Castle Park, Bristol

Members of the public also had the opportunity to put questions to local officers about the force’s efforts to tackle knife crime in two online ‘Ask Me Anything’ sessions on the Bath and Bristol community Reddit pages. A total of 71 questions were answered, with the two discussion forums reaching a combined audience of more than 50,000 people.

Chief Inspector Mike Vass, knife crime lead for Avon and Somerset Police, said:

“This week of action has seen some exceptional results, but it is important to stress that addressing the issues of knife carrying and serious violence is a year-round effort which relies on the support of our communities and partners.
“Our bleed kit and knife surrender campaigns are two fantastic examples of this partnership work, while the investment in educational initiatives being delivered through the Violence Reduction Partnership is another essential element in helping to deter people from becoming involved in serious violence.
“Our key focus throughout is on the drive to encourage young people to stop carrying knives on them in public, by tackling the misconception that people need to arm themselves to be safe. In reality, we know that very few people carry a knife, but to that tiny minority, and any young person who is considering taking a knife out on to the streets with them, I’d urge you to not to do this. Not only is it illegal, but it actually places you at far greater risk of being injured.”

In the year ending September 2023, police recorded 27,846 ‘possession of article with a blade or point’ offences in England and Wales. (ONS, 2023). Tragically, teenagers remain over twice as likely to be fatally stabbed than they were ten years ago and 82% of homicides among teenage victims involve the use of a sharp instrument (ONS, 2024).

As part of the work to tackle serious violence involving young people, officers and staff from Avon and Somerset Police and the local Violence Reduction Partnerships deliver education sessions to local schools and colleges.

The sessions focus around educating young people on the dangers and consequences of carrying a knife, including:

  • There is no safe place to stab someone. Any stab wound can potentially be fatal.
  • Carrying a knife means you are more likely to get hurt yourself – people are often wounded by the knife they were carrying themselves.
  • It is against the law to carry a knife in a public place. Carrying a knife can lead to four years in prison, even if you have no intention of using it.

During the week of action, the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (SWROCU) also worked with Border Force to crack down on the importation of illegal weapons.

Officers carried out 15 visits across the South West – three in the Avon and Somerset area – to people who bought weapons online, which included flick knives, karambits, butterfly knives and swords. Cease and desist notices that demand the recipient immediately stops their illegal activity were issued and one person was arrested and released on bail conditions.

Many of the people visited were unaware the weapons bought were illegal and so advice and education was provided by the officers. In one case, a young person had purchased a weapon without the knowledge of the parent.

SWROCU DI Lucy Edgeworth, who sits on the National Knife Crime Working Group, said:

“SWROCU is committed to tackling the importation of illegal knives into the South West by working closely with Avon and Somerset Police and partners to offer advice and assistance and to disrupt this area of criminality.
“The devastation caused by knife crime continues to fracture our communities and destroy lives. I urge parents to have conversations with their children, to search rooms and bags and to know what knives are in your kitchen as they are the most common weapon used to cause serious injury in the UK.”

Across our policing area, there are now 19 weapon surrender bins in place to help take knives off the streets and prevent harm from occurring. To find out where these are situated and more on how to protect yourself or others from knife crime, visit: https://www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/crime-prevention-advice/protect-yourself-and-others-from-knife-crime/

If you are concerned that someone you know may be carrying a knife, you can report it into the police either online or by calling 101. Alternatively, you can report 100% anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. If you believe someone is in immediate danger, always dial 999.