From November 9, police forces around the U.K. will coordinate efforts to tackle knife crime and wider violence as part of Operation Sceptre.
Officers from across London’s Metropolitan (Met) Police Service will join the operation and be involved in a range of activity, including carrying out weapons sweeps and patrols in the areas where violence occurs most. Drugs are linked to a high proportion of the violence in London, so the Met will also be using Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology to target those using the road networks to supply drugs. In addition, the Met will be teaming up with colleagues from the British Transport Police and deploying drug detection dogs as well as knife arches to deter criminals in and around transport hubs.
As part of Operation Sceptre, police forces will also partner with Border Force nationally to monitor knives and other offensive weapons, including attempts to import illegal items, as well as sharing intelligence.
Commander Jane Connors, the Met’s Violence Lead, said tackling knife crime is a priority for the Met. “We are committed to not only bearing down on high harm offenders but also preventing violence from occurring in the first place, with officers putting a focus on education and intervention with young people.
“You can expect to see officers on the streets, carrying out a range of activity – all aimed at suppressing knife crime and keeping the areas in which you live safer. This operation is an intensification of the work officers are already doing day-in and day-out – and it will continue into the winter.
“We also need to hear from anyone with information about knife crime. If you have any information, please contact police or Crimestoppers [an independent charity] – your anonymity is guaranteed. It can feel like a hard call, but it could save the life of someone’s son or daughter.”
In the U.K., it is an offense to sell a knife to anyone under 18, unless it has a folding blade 3 inches long (7.62 cm) or less; carry a knife in public without good reason, unless it has a folding blade with a cutting edge 3 inches long or less; carry, buy or sell any type of banned knife; or use any knife in a threatening way (even a legal knife). Any sharp instrument that is used in a threatening way is also considered by law to be an offensive weapon.
Knife crime offenses have been rising in the U.K. since 2013/14, however statistics released by the Office for National Statistics in October 2020 show a 1% decrease in offenses involving knives or sharp instruments recorded by the police in the year ending June 2020, predominately due to coronavirus and the lockdown restrictions.