Police in Staffordshire and Cheshire hold week long knife crackdown

A week long operation is underway to take knives off the streets of Staffordshire and Cheshire, and educate people about the dangers of carrying weapons.

It is part of a national campaign, Operation Sceptre, aimed at tackling knife crime.

In Cheshire, 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, officers will be working with 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.

In Staffordshire, officers will also will be carrying out stop and searches of anyone they suspect is to be carrying a knife and will use intelligence-led deployments, weapons sweeps and high-visibility patrols to target and disrupt offenders who carry and use knives.

They will also be writing to, and making unannounced visits to, known offenders and suspected knife carriers informing them of the crackdown and urging them to discard their knives.

A trio of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) are also helping to highlight the difference everyone can make in tackling knife crime through a poem.

‘Ditch the Blade', a poem about encouraging young people not to carry knives, was written by PCSOs Andy Bagnall, Keith Mellor and Scott Swann.

The poem has now been filmed by students at Staffordshire University being read by Stoke City and Port Vale players, emergency service workers, and well-known people from across the county.

It will be shown to pupils in schools, while Port Vale will also be playing the video during their game against Mansfield on Saturday.

Stoke City's Tyrese Campbell is one of the familiar faces lending their voice to the 'Ditch The Blade poem

PCSO Andy Bagnall said: “We wanted to get across the devastating impact that carrying a knife can have on a young person’s life and that just by carrying one they are putting their lives and future at serious risk.

“This is an issue we all feel very strongly about and, working with Staffordshire University, we have used our own time to bring the poem to life, organising the filming of people we hope will catch the attention of young people.”

Assistant Chief Constable of Staffordshire Police Jenny Sims said: “Although we have seen an eight per cent decrease in knife crime in Staffordshire in the last year, nationally there is an increase and in our county there were still 670 recorded knife crimes; a number we strive to drive down further. Most worryingly, in 134 of these crimes a young person was the victim and 116 young people committed a crime whilst carrying a knife.

“We hope the poem will help highlight this shared message and that the public will also join us in our mission to ensure that Staffordshire feels a safe place to be for all.”

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.”

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