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An ongoing knife crime campaign rolled out by Staffordshire Police and partners last week has resulted in knives being seized and anti-knife messaging reaching thousands of people in Staffordshire.
The renowned #DitchTheBlade initiative, as part of Operation Sceptre, was rolled out across the county once again in an effort to take dangerous weapons off the streets, including dozens of knives handed in to surrender bins across Stoke-on-Trent.
The latest week-long campaign began on Monday 15 November and ran until 21 November.
Knife amnesty bins were available for the safe disposal of knives in Burton, Cannock and Longton Police Stations and 60 knives were handed in.
Officers and police community support officers attended community meetings and education events to encourage conversations about the dangers of carrying a knife and provided leaflets for families so they know what to do if they are concerned about their child being involved in knife crime.
Talks around knife crime were delivered to school pupils by officers and letters were also sent by schools to parents to encourage them to have discussions around knife crime with their children.
An online forum around knife crime was also held enabling the public to ask questions which were answered by representatives from Staffordshire Police and partners.
Rob Hessell, Chief Inspector at Staffordshire Police, said: “A number of public open spaces had weapon sweeps completed by police and partners where four knives were found.
“In total 60 knives were handed into knife surrender bins at Burton, Cannock and Longton Police Stations.”
Between November 2020 – October 2021, there were 677 knife crimes. This is a seven per cent reduction (-48) compared to pre-Covid. More serious violence knife crime has also reduced by 10% (24 less crimes than last 12 months).
Rob added: “We will continue to pro-actively work to reduce all incidences of knife crime seen across the region. The police have a part to play both in terms of the pursuit and prevention of knife crime. The police will always get asked what we are doing about knife crime which, clearly, we are part of the solution for. However, this is very much a multi-agency response to tackling a serious issue and we hope to see the great work being delivered by partners continuing.
“If members of the public have more information about people carrying knives, please report this to police or anonymously via Crimestoppers.”
Stoke-on-Trent City Council leader Abi Brown said: “Knife crime can have devastating effects on families and we’re committed to doing all we can with our partners to stamp it out. This includes education and awareness and we have been working with young people in a wide range of activities, including through creative dance and theatre to get people thinking about this issue in new and impactful ways.
“During the week of activities, our trading standards teams joined police officers in swoops on premises across the city, carrying out under age test purchasing of knives. A 16-year-old male and 14-year-old female volunteer attempted to buy knives in seven premises in Burslem, Hanley, Stoke and Tunstall. Six of the seven premises correctly asked for ID. One sale took place of a carving knife for £6 at a self-serve till at a premise in Hanley. Our teams had previously issued guidance notes and posters to retailers across the city as part of the #DitchTheBlade campaign.
“A total of 23 per cent of knife crime suspects are under 18 years old, with nearly 60 per cent of suspects under 29 years old. That is why the ‘challenge 25’ policy is so important. Approximately 50 per cent of knife crime victims are aged under 29 years old and 70 per cent are male.”
Visit the dedicated webpage for more information on the campaign and details of the help and support available: www.staffordshire.police.uk/ditchtheblade