Force taking part in national week of action to combat knife crime Date published: 14th September 2019 2.08pm

Cheshire Constabulary is taking part in a national campaign to take knives off the streets and educate people about the dangers of carrying weapons.

Held from Monday 16 September to Sunday 22 September, Operation Sceptre aims to reduce the impact of knife crime in communities.

Cheshire has one of the lowest rates of knife crime in England and statistics show that the number of serious knife offences committed in the county decreased by nearly 15 per cent from the year ending July 2018 to the year ending July 2019.

The force is determined to further reduce the number of weapons carried on Cheshire’s streets and its considerable ongoing efforts in this regard will be showcased as part of enforcement and engagement initiatives held during the national week of action.

As well as conducting stop and search operations, deploying knife arches (mobile metal detectors which provides airport-style security) and distributing knife screening wands to pubs and clubs, Cheshire officers will be working with partner agencies such as community groups, housing associations and Trading Standards to educate young people and other residents about the laws surrounding buying and carrying knives.

The officers will also talk to them about the potentially fatal consequences of carrying weapons.

Sarah Heath, Cheshire Constabulary’s superintendent for tackling weapons and reducing serious harm, said: “Nationally knife crime is a growing problem and the week-long Operation Sceptre campaign is a national initiative that the force is always more than happy to take part in and embrace.

“We are proud of the fact that Cheshire has a lower rate of knife crime than most other counties in England but our aim is for weapon-free streets throughout the county.

“The national week of action is an opportunity to showcase some of the initiatives we use to tackle the use of knives and other weapons. This is a priority for us and I would like to reassure people that this work continues throughout the year.

“We work closely with partners, the third sector, youth representatives and community members to create a structured approach to collectively address the complex issues associated with knife crime and habitual knife carrying.

“We have also implemented longer term strategies to empower communities and support young people through education and intervention.

“We will continue to work together to make Cheshire a county where no-one wants to, or feels that they need to, carry a knife or any other weapon.”

Family and friends also have an important role to play. If you know someone who carries a knife then reporting it to the police could be enough to save a life.

Retailers are also urged to have robust controls on the sale of blades, such as kitchen knives.

It is illegal to sell a knife to anyone under the age of 18 and anyone found carrying a knife in public, without a reasonable excuse, faces a prison sentence.

David Keane, police and crime commissioner for Cheshire, added: “Carrying a knife is a very serious crime, it doesn’t make you safer and knife crime can have a devastating impact on victims and their families.

“The killing of 18-year-old Eddie O’Rourke in Runcorn last September, and the subsequent murder and manslaughter convictions of the two teenagers responsible, is the ultimate example of why people shouldn’t carry knives.

“Not only did a young man needlessly die but three families have been ruined as a result of a knife being carried and used outside a Runcorn club that night.

“I am pleased that police in Cheshire are doing all they can to reduce the number of dangerous weapons on our streets and I urge anyone with information about people who carry such weapons to come forward in confidence and report it.”

Supt Heath said: “We are fully aware of the fact that some of the weapons on our streets are bought online, rather than from a traditional retailer.

“As such, we are now working with distribution centres to intercept prohibited weapons that are purchased online and prevent them from becoming a threat to our communities.”

To report any type of crime involving weapons call Cheshire Constabulary on 101, or 999 in an emergency.

Information can also be passed to the force online via https://www.cheshire.police.uk/contact/general-enquiries.

Anyone who knows someone that carries a knife can report it to Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.