Staffordshire Police are calling on partners, parents, schools and the wider community to come together in support of a national operation to tackle the issue of knife crime.
This week (11-17 March), under Operation Sceptre, the force will be rolling out a wide variety of enforcement and educational activities, to help reduce the impact of knife crime in the communities of Staffordshire.
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.
“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.”
Staffordshire Police’s neighbourhood policing teams have been visiting schools and colleges to educate young people on the dangers and consequences of carrying knives, setting up proactive knife operations in busy town centres to detect and deter habitual knife carriers, and organising knife sweeps in knife crime hotspots to discover any knives concealed in public areas.
Knife crime has increased in Staffordshire by 5% (32 crimes) over the past rolling 12 months (1 March 2018 – 28 February 2019) with 15% of offenders being under the age of 18
The figures for crimes involving knives per neighbourhood policing team for the past 12 months are below.
• Stoke North – 180
• Stoke South – 160
• Tamworth – 62
• Stafford – 59
• East Staffs – 55
• Newcastle – 52
• Staffordshire Moorlands – 45
• Cannock – 41
• Lichfield – 33
• South Staffs – 32
• Force total Mar 18 to Feb 19 = 719
• Last year’s force total Mar 17 to Feb 18 = 687
Stoke-on-Trent City Council was recently awarded £226,000 following a bid to the national Supporting Families Against Youth Crime Fund. The money will be used to provide extra training and support to help children who might be vulnerable to criminal exploitation and their families.
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.”
A junior and teenage boxing event is being held at Colosseum Stoke in line with Operation Sceptre to encourage young people to learn boxing skills. There is sound evidence to support boxing promotes self-worth, provides a sense of belonging and keeps teens active and healthy.
To find out more about the event and where to get tickets here, to support the Operation Sceptre campaign, you can share messages on social media using the hashtag #opsceptre.