Thousands of weapons surrendered following knife crime operation
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More than 2,600 knives have been surrendered as part of a county-wide drive to tackle knife crime.
Between 15 and 21 November, officers from across the force took part in a week of action alongside community stakeholders under the national Operation Sceptre campaign, which aims to reduce criminality associated with knife crime and provide education around the dangers of carrying a weapon.
Throughout the week officers carried out a number of initiatives, including weapons sweeps in parks, patrols in areas known to be hotspots, and educational talks at schools and businesses to encourage young people to think twice before carrying a knife.
The 11 weapons bins across the county were emptied prior to the week of action, and officers found 2,457 blades and 10 firearms.
The bins were emptied again last week and a further 181 blades were recovered.
This year saw a 17 percent increase in the number of weapons being surrendered compared to the same figures in November 2020, with almost 600 more knives being recovered.
After being reviewed by officers to see if they have been used in any criminal acts, the weapons will then be destroyed.
Officers also visited a number of retailers which sell knives to provide guidance to staff members on the dangers of knives being purchased for criminal purposes, such as information on the age requirements for purchasing a knife.
The force also worked with young people from the Bedford Borough Youth Cabinet and the Central Bedfordshire Youth Parliament for a social media takeover through their #KnifeFreeBedfordshire campaign, as well as sharing adverts on platforms like Snapchat and YouTube.
The motivations for carrying a knife can vary, however those who carry a knife are significantly more likely to be a victim of knife crime.
Recorded incidents of serious youth violence fell by 24 per cent in Bedfordshire in the 12 months to April 2021, compared to the same timeframe to April 2019.
While the pandemic has played a big part in a drop of this scale, serious youth violence had reduced significantly year-on-year just prior to the first national lockdown, after a number of investments by government to tackle serious youth violence in Bedfordshire.
Detective Chief Inspector Aaron Kiff said: “This week of action against knife crime provided us with an opportunity to dedicate resources from across the force to tackling an important issue and one we know our communities are really concerned about.
“It’s clearly positive that so many knives and weapons were handed in and no longer pose a threat in Bedfordshire. However, the weapons bins are just one aspect of the work taking place across the county and we know that policing cannot do it alone when it comes to tackling issues related to knife crime.
“A vitally important aspect of the work taking place is the education and training being provided alongside charities, schools, the retail industry and many other partners, to ensure that the true impact and dangerous of knife crime are understood across society.
“My big ask from the public is for them to let us know if they suspect someone is carrying a knife, whether this is with the intention of using it or if they’re under the false impression that it will protect them. It won’t; and in fact, they are far more likely to become a victim themselves.”
To report concerns about knife crime, please report via Bedfordshire Police's online reporting centre or call police on 101.
You can also call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. They will never ask for your name or try to trace the number that you're calling from.