Hundreds of weapons have been taken off Nottinghamshire’s streets as part of a campaign to root out knife crime from communities.
Nottinghamshire Police met with thousands of young people to educate them on the dangers of carrying a knife as part of the national week of action.
Operation Sceptre ran from 14-20 November and saw the force offer a snapshot of some of the work that goes on all year-round to crack down on the impact and causes of knife crime.
Working closely with partners, the police were involved in a range of different proactive initiatives across the county throughout the week that led to more than 200 knives being seized.
There was also a concerted push by the force to focus on the preventive work being done by schools and early intervention officers to educate young people on the dangers of knife crime.
Officers visited more than 70 schools across the county throughout the week to deliver education sessions, which were attended by more than 5,000 school pupils.
On top of this, an engagement event focusing on knife crime was held at Park Vale Academy, Top Valley, on 19 November, which was funded by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Nottinghamshire.
Around 250 people attended the event which featured powerful speeches from people who had lost loved ones, as well as music and dance performances from local artists and a range of other activities.
And young people were taken by officers to the Ben Kinsella Trust’s Choices and Consequences anti-knife crime workshop at the National Justice Museum, Nottingham city centre.
Nottinghamshire Police also organised a variety of proactive initiatives to help take knives off the streets, including the deployment of three metal detecting knife arches at different locations to detect and deter knife carriers.
A total of 196 weapons were dropped off anonymously by members of the public throughout the week in the 14 knife amnesty bins set up inside police stations across Nottinghamshire.
Officers carried out 46 weapons sweeps around parks and other areas during the week of action, which led to eight knives being found that would’ve otherwise remained undetected.
More than 100 stop-and-searches were carried out by officers during increased patrols, while 12 proactive search warrants all took place, with these operations leading to ten offensive weapons being seized.
And knife test purchase operations took place at 21 stores across the force area, which saw police cadets visit different shops and attempt to buy knives. None of the underage cadets were sold knives as part of the operation.
Superintendent Kathryn Craner, the force’s knife crime lead, said: “Tackling knife crime is very much an ongoing challenge for us and is something we work on all year-round to try and improve for our communities.
“Operation Sceptre offers just a small sample of some of the work we do each day, alongside our partners, to protect people from the devastation we know knife crime can cause to families.
“It is so important that we run visible operations like this, so that the people of Nottinghamshire can see us leaving no stone unturned in our attempts to stop people coming to harm in this way.
“Taking knives off the streets and educating young people about the consequences of carrying a blade so they make the right choices is crucial to reducing offending and preventing these crimes from happening in the first place.
“Engaging with people at a young age about knife crime so they fully understand the impact their decisions can have is a key part of this, which is why we run these early intervention sessions, not just during Op Sceptre but all year-round.
“Lots of people still don’t understand that carrying a knife actually puts them at greater risk of coming to harm, so this is a key message we always look to get across during our school visits.
“Whether through school sessions or visits to anti-knife crime workshops like Choices and Consequences, these engagement activities can have an immeasurably important impact on young people, so we’re pleased so many people were involved during the week of action.
“We’re also delighted to have been able to take more than 200 knives off the streets throughout Op Sceptre, with the public playing a big part in this by dropping off their unwanted knives in our amnesty bins throughout the campaign.”
Knife crime fell by seven per cent in Nottinghamshire between April 2021 and March 2022, compared to the same 12-month period before the pandemic.
Key to this drop has been the collaborative work done with local partners like Nottinghamshire’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), which uses early intervention methods to positively engage with young people and educate them about the dangers associated with knife crime before they ever pick up a knife.
Natalie Baker-Swift, head of the VRU, said: “We are delighted that once again, Op Sceptre has been a success.
“Joint activities like this are vital for the VRU’s goal of implementing a public health approach and delivering system-wide change.
“We also hope young people engaged with this week will be empowered by the knowledge they have choices, and that there are people here to help them.”
Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry attended the force’s knife crime community engagement event at Park Vale Academy on 19 November.
She said: “I was listening to the mums talking about their horrific experiences and as a mum it really got to me.
“I can’t imagine what it would be like to have that phone call to say your child had been stabbed and the devastation that would bring to your family. It’s just wrong.
“It’s not just the impact on the child but their brothers and sisters and the whole community.
“If any parent thinks about having that phone call it should really make them realise that we all need to have these conversations with our young people to make sure they don’t ever think of picking up a knife – and explaining to them that taking a knife out with them means they are more likely to be injured themselves.”