November 13, 2023. News

Operation Sceptre – a week of action across the Thames Valley to tackle knife crime

Monday 13 November marks the start of Operation Sceptre, a national week of action, education and awareness-raising to tackle knife crime and violence.

Here in the Thames Valley, the approach is to increase education and early intervention to stop young people getting involved in crime in the first place.  Alongside this, strong proactive policing tackles those who carry knives.

All recorded knife crime is down 4% across the whole Thames Valley over the past 12 months.  It remains low – with 1186 offences recorded between 1 October 2022 and 31 October 2023, a reduction of 55 offences when compared to the same period the year before.

The Thames Valley is one of 20 areas with a Home Office-funded Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), a partnership of all local councils, police, fire, education, health and community groups, with the aim of working together to prevent violence in the first place.

In addition to coordinating the partnership response to violence, the VRU also funds a range of innovative early intervention projects. These include access to sport, support offered in A&E and police custody, one-to-one mentoring in schools and education packages. 

Alongside the VRU’s work, Thames Valley Police deliver a strong policing response. Tackling knife crime remains a force priority, targeting known knife carriers and those engaged in other associated crime such as drug dealing. 

A new mobile app deploys officers to hotspot areas across the force, providing a high visibility presence, putting officers in the right places at the right times. Across 97 identified hotspots for violence, officers delivered over 23,000 additional high-visibility patrols in the past 12 months.

Tactics such as Stop & Search, hotspot policing, regular operations in the night-time economy and close working with communities to solve local problems all contribute to the approach.

Knife amnesty bins are permanently in place across the Thames Valley and are being promoted as part of Operation Sceptre, encouraging that small number of people who may think it is acceptable to carry a knife to dispose of it – no questions asked.

Jules Bottazzi, Head of the Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit, said:

“Tackling knife crime and creating safer communities is a shared priority and the Violence Reduction Unit provides leadership and coordination as all our partners work together.

“Our approach recognises that we need to place equal importance on education and preventing those vulnerable to crime getting involved in the first place.

 “Operation Sceptre allows us to raise awareness of this important work and we ask all our communities to join us.  We need parents, community leaders, young people, to work together so that we tackle the fear, provide trusted role models, encourage young people to ask for help and turn away from violence or carrying a knife.

“If you are worried, talk to someone, anyone you trust. Because carrying a knife is never going to make you safer.”

Superintendent Lewis Prescott-Mayling, Force Strategic Lead for Violence Reduction, Thames Valley Police, said:

“Knife crime and violence reduction are a priority for Thames Valley Police and the latest results show that our approach is having an effect, with knife crime continuing to fall over the force area.

“Thankfully, knife crime remains low. However, we continue to see tragic and shocking incidents across the region, too often with young lives lost or ruined forever. Any incident is one too many.

“While our partners deliver education and prevention, the police continue to take action against those who carry knives or think violence is acceptable and our officers provide a high visibility presence throughout our communities.

“Knife amnesty bins are always available, providing an opportunity to dispose of a weapon – no questions asked. If you have a weapon – maybe you thought it may protect you – get rid of it.

“Finally, if you are worried, or have any information – we urge you to contact the police or if you do not wish to speak to us, report to without having to give your name.  You may just save a life.”