Police in Staffordshire launch operation to tackle knife crime

Police in Staffordshire are taking action to tackle knife crime.

Figures released today show the force recorded 719 incidents in the last year.

That is a rise of 5% on the previous 12 months, though personal robbery where a knife is used has increased by 20%.

This week, under Operation Sceptre, officers will be rolling out activities to help reduce the impact of knife crime on the county.

'Knife sweeps' are being held in hotspots to discover any knives concealed in public areas.

The force will also be continuing in its efforts to deter offenders through the use of stop and search.

Operations will be held in busy town centres to detect and deter habitual knife carriers.

Neighbourhood policing teams are organising visits to schools and colleges to educate young people on the dangers and consequences of carrying knives.

A targeted social media campaign aimed at those most likely to commit offences with a knife is being rolled out, aimed at showing the stark realities of knife crime and youth violence.

Superintendent Ricky Fields, strategic lead for knife crime at Staffordshire Police, said: "Staffordshire Police continues to see increases in recorded crime involving the possession or use of knives alongside increases in overall violent crime. Knife crime is unfortunately a visible part of communities in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent and not an issue we can tackle on our own.

"We are doing lots to tackle knife crime and we are actively pursuing those who intend to cause harm within Staffordshire's communities. We will do all we can to bring offenders to justice, however enforcement is just one element of the response needed. Knife crime cannot and must not be treated in isolation.

"The threat of knife crime increases when considered with street gangs or drugs activity. Our approach is not to criminalise young people but to safeguard them and protect them. With partners, parents and schools we need to understand why young people choose to carry knives, because we have seen a marked increase in recent years in Staffordshire."

The issue has recently grabbed national headlines, following the tragic deaths of several young people.

It has seen high profile police officers from across the country raise concerns about the impact of cuts to resources on the level of violent crime, though Prime Minister Theresa May said there is “no direct correlation” between cuts to police numbers and the significant rise in knife attacks.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council was recently awarded £226,000 to provide extra training and support to help children who might be vulnerable to criminal exploitation.

The council's youth offending service is also working with schools and the charity Street Doctors to deliver targeted sessions to children who might be at risk of carrying knives and offensive weapons.

Cllr Randy Conteh, cabinet member for housing, communities and safer city, said: "Knife crime has no place in our city and communities and we are committed to working with partners to stamp it out.

"The majority of people do not carry knives and are generally safe within the city.

"We are putting a lot of work in with schools to educate children and young people about the risks and dangers of carrying knives and weapons, and the dire consequences doing so could have on their future."


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