Special operation launched to target knife crime in Cheshire

Reporter:

Steve Creswell

POLICE are cracking down on knife crime as part of a national campaign and will be targeting people suspected of carrying blades.

Operation Sceptre is a week of action that runs from February 12 - 18 and aims to reduce the impact of knife crime in communities.

Cheshire is ranked nine out of 42 (excluding the city of London and British Transport Police) for knife crime in all forces across the country but there is evidence that some areas of the county have a higher number of knife crime incidents than others.

Those are the areas officers will be targeting and include Runcorn, Ellesmere Port, Macclesfield and Widnes.

Using intelligence, the focus will be on people who carry knives in public, and action will be taken if anyone is found with one without a valid reason for carrying it.

During the initiative, officers will look to educate people about the laws surrounding buying and carrying knives and will be working with partners such as Trading Standards and Crimestoppers to combat the issue.

There will also be a number of surrender bins available for people to hand in knives between February 12 and February 19 at four police stations - Macclesfield, Ellesmere Port, Widnes and Runcorn - and two recycling centres - on Congleton Road, Gawsworth, and on Garth Road, Ellesmere Port.

Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, David Keane, said: “Carrying a knife is a crime which brings that added risk that a minor issue can escalate into something much more serious and potentially life changing.

“The damage caused by knives, not just to the victim and their families, but also to the wider community, can be devastating. No one deserves to live in fear of knife crime in their area and we will be using intelligence to target certain areas.

“Consequently, we are keen to reach out to members of the public who may have information about knife carriers, and I would encourage anyone with information to have the confidence to come forward and report it.”

Officers will be using their powers to stop and search individuals who are believed to be carrying knives.

Family and friends are also being encouraged to report people they think may be carrying blades.

Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) Sacha Hatchett said: “The law is quite simple, it is illegal to have a knife in your possession in a public place without a reason and if you break that law you could face a prison sentence.

“We will be supporting our colleagues nationally as part of Operation Sceptre and officers will be using their stop and search powers where appropriate. We will have increased visibility in the areas with the highest number of recorded incidents. Officers will also be working to stop the sale of knives to under 18’s at part of this initiative. This is a warning that we take all crimes involving knives – or any weapon – in Cheshire extremely seriously.”

Retailers are being asked to put in robust controls on the sale of blades, such as kitchen knives, as part of the operation.

ACC Hatchett added:  “Whilst Cheshire has not experienced any recent knife related murders, people have been seriously injured. We need to act now and work with residents, partner agencies, the business community and schools to reduce the number of knives on streets. We also need to work with young people themselves to spread the message that carrying a knife can ruin their life rather than save it.”

Cheshire Constabulary is working extremely hard to eradicate this crime and is working in partnership with Crimestoppers, an independent charity that encourages anyone with information to contact them anonymously on 0800 555 111. Alternatively call Cheshire Police on 101.

Email:

steve.creswell@nwn.co.uk

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