Knife crime week of action turns spotlight on online retail

Knife sweeps in London. Photo credit: NPCC

Operation Sceptre, an initiative to tackle knife crime across the UK which brings together all 43 police forces and British Transport Police is currently underway in a week of intensified action.

Throughout the week of action, forces are coordinating activity which targets knife crime from the root cause right through to enforcement.

This November, Op Sceptre will specifically focus on tackling and disrupting the importation and supply of knives, particularly the growing accessibility of dangerous knives which can be purchased online.  

Commander Stephen Clayman is National Police Chiefs’ Council knife crime lead. He explains:

“We have been growing increasingly concerned about the wide range of knives which can be purchased online and while age verification is required for purchases, there is little requirement for additional checks to be made.

“We know there have been several murders in recent years where the knives used have been purchased online and we are also aware that some individuals are buying large quantities and selling them on through social media sites like TikTok and Telegram.

“Op Sceptre will include all of the usual operational tactics including education and engagement activity, knife amnesty bins, weapons sweeps and hot spot patrols but we’re also looking to build a comprehensive picture of online retailers across the country which will help to inform our engagement moving forward.

“Our approach has also been significantly strengthened with the proposed legislative changes which are being progressed to reduce the availability of certain types of machetes and to increase policing powers to seize knives. These offer additional robust measures to deal with those who seek to use knives for violence. Ultimately, when used appropriately, they provide a greater means to protect the public and safeguard our communities. 

“Every day as police officers we see first-hand the devastating effects of these deadly weapons on the lives of individuals, particularly young people and we must always look at what action can be taken to restrict the supply chain and prevent access to knives that are used for violence, intimidation and harm.” 

The proposed changes to knife crime legislation developed by The Home Office in consultation with the NPCC Knife Crime Working Group include:

  • A ban on certain types of machetes and knives which seem to have no practical use and seem to be designed to look menacing and suitable for combat.  
  • A new police power to seize, retain and destroy lawfully held bladed articles in private premises – this power can be applied only if the police are in the property lawfully already, and have reasonable grounds to believe that the article is to be used in serious crime or serious violence. 
  • Increasing the maximum penalty for the offences of importation, manufacture, sale and general supply of prohibited and dangerous weapons and sale of knives to persons under 18 years old, to 2 years. 
  • The Sentencing Council to consider amending the Sentencing Guidelines relating to possession of bladed articles and offensive weapons so that possession of a prohibited weapon is treated more seriously than possession of a non-prohibited weapon.  
  • The introduction of a new possession offence of bladed articles with the intention to endanger life or to cause fear of violence.  

Source: NPCC


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