Operation Sceptre, the national police initiative to tackle knife crime which took place this month (13 November to 19 November 2023) saw 13,272 knives removed from our streets and 1,625 people arrested, of which 970 were related to knife crime offences.
Operation Sceptre brought together all 43 police forces across England and Wales in a week of intensified action with forces coordinating activity which targets knife crime from the root cause right through to enforcement.
Op Sceptre specifically focused on tackling and disrupting the importation and supply of knives, particularly the growing accessibility of dangerous knives which can be purchased via official online retailers, but in some cases then re-sold via social media.
Op Uchee is a process that manages the interception of packages of illegal weapons imported into the UK. Border Force will scan parcels arriving at Royal Mail’s distribution centre in West London and any which appear to be weapons are opened and examined. Should the weapon be illegal, it will be seized and the recipient reported to their respective police force.
A variety of other tactics were used by forces; including weapons sweeps, engagement with schools and local communities, knife arches in public places and events and knife surrender bins to remove knives off the streets.
Commander Stephen Clayman is National Police Chiefs’ Council Knife Crime Lead. He said:
“Knife crime must be tackled from a number of different angles using a range of tactics and Op Sceptre showcases the breadth of work in our uncompromising mission to reduce the supply of knives as effectively as we can. Alongside robust enforcement action, police forces also look at the underlying causes and undertake many engagement visits to schools and community organisations, which are so vital in educating around the dangers and consequences of carrying a knife.
“Op Sceptre maybe one of two weeks a year where we amplify how much we talk about our work tackling knife crime but rest assured extensive action is always taking place all over the country by dedicated officers and staff who are doing everything they can to protect their communities from these dangerous weapons.”
The week also focused on education and engagement with members of the public and retailers who sell knives. 2,071 school engagement visits took place alongside over 1,000 community or educational events and officers visited 1,804 retailers to talk about the sale of knives. Of 663 test purchases made with 16 per cent (109) resulting in failures.
Retailers who fail test purchases can be given education and advice and around the regulations when selling knives or prosecuted in some circumstances. A number of police forces also engaged with online knife retailers based in their local area around responsible retail and working in partnership to tackle the concerning rise in online sales.
Commander Clayman continues:
“Over the coming months we want to work more closely with online retailers to ensure they sell responsibly when it comes to knife sales. In order to reduce third-party knife sales to young people, we will need to speak further with social media platforms and understand how they can help us.”