A nationwide police crackdown on knife crime has produced “staggering” results, according to police chiefs, with more than 10,000 bladed weapons taken off the streets.
In the capital alone, officers arrested more than 1,000 people as part of Operation Sceptre.
In all 43 police forces across England and Wales, police stepped up activities to try to drive down violent crime.
Weapons sweeps, dedicated patrols and early morning raids were just some of the tactics used in the push to recover dangerous weapons and target high harm offenders.
Senior officers told Sky News the amount of weapons seized in just one week of operations was “very significant” and surprising, given that England is in COVID lockdown and the assumption was that fewer weapons and violent offenders would be on the streets.
Across England and Wales, 723 knives were seized and another 10,000 handed in to police stations and special collection points.
In London, more than 240 knives and other weapons were seized.
The Met also teamed up with colleagues from British Transport Police to deploy knife arches and drug detection dogs around some of the capital’s main transport hubs.
Across the country, forces targeted known drug dealers. The trade in illegal drugs is known to be a key driver behind much of the violent crime, which has risen to record levels in recent years.
In July, figures released by the Office for National Statistics showed a record high of 46,000 knife offences in England and Wales in the 12 months to the first lockdown in March.
Although had it been expected to see a reduction in the number of weapons seized during this second COVID lockdown, the 10,000 figure is roughly equivalent to the number of weapons recovered during last year’s Operation Sceptre activities when there was no COVID health emergency.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Graham McNulty, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead on knife crime said the fight against violent crime remained a prime focus for law enforcement across the country.
“The harm caused to families and communities through the tragic loss of life relating to knife crime is devastating,” he said.
“And that is why focussing on this issue remains a top priority for policing.
“Despite the challenges and the extra demand placed on the service as a result of the ongoing pandemic, the sheer number of arrests and seizures made across England and Wales as part of Operation Sceptre last week sends a clear message that we will not tolerate knife crime.”
During the operation in London, which ran from Monday 9 November to Sunday 15 November, officers carried out:
- 2,900 weapons sweeps
- 89 warrants were executed
- 167 knives were seized
- 58 other offensive weapons were recovered
- 564 drug seizures were made
- 1,002 people arrested
Alongside enforcement activities, police forces have also focussed on offering prevention and diversion opportunities to many of those caught carrying offensive weapons.
Commander Jane Connors, the Met’s lead on violent crime said: “The results we have seen from just one week alone are staggering and clearly shows our officers are relentlessly doing all they can to reduce knife crime and violence in the capital.
“167 knives have been moved from the streets – the stark reality is that these could have been used to seriously injure or kill someone’s son or daughter.
Although Operation Sceptre’s nationwide week of activities is now over, police chiefs across the country have said officers will still be out in force in the run up to Christmas, concentrating much of their efforts on driving down violent crime.
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