In Brief

What is Operation Sceptre and can it reduce knife crime?

The week-long national campaign includes weapon surrender bins and sweeps

A major crackdown on knife crime kicks off across England and Wales today.

At least 39 people have been stabbed to death in the UK since the beginning of the year, with several teenagers among the victims. 

Operation Sceptre is a week-long targeted approach across all 44 forces in England and Wales that is aimed at tackling knife crime and raising awareness of its impact.

The Warrington Guardian reports that the scheme will see police using surrender bins, stop-and-search powers and weapon sweeps to target “habitual blade-carriers”.

According to the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC), officers will “also engage with young people through schools and clubs”, and “many forces will ensure their local shops are enforcing the law by restricting the sale of knives to anyone under the age of 18”.

Undercover police volunteers will attempt to buy blades to check whether retailers are selling them illegally to minors, reports the Daily Mail. Retailers who break the rules face up to six months’ imprisonment, a fine of £5,000, or both.

The NPCC’s lead for knife crime, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Duncan Ball, said: “Police cannot tackle violence alone and this week highlights our work with schools, charities, the health service and communities to eradicate knife crime and keep people safe.”

Similar drives have been held under the name Operation Sceptre in recent years. An enforcement week in February 2018 led to 3,660 knives being surrendered across 28 police force areas, while 615 arrests were made by 27 forces, including 282 for knife-related offences.

Knife crime in the UK has been increasing steadily since 2011 and reached a peak in the year leading up to September 2018, according to the last report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The number of offences involving knives or sharp instruments increased by 8% to 39,818, up from 36,776 offences recorded the previous year, adds Sky News.

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