More than 2,000 knives off the streets after countywide effort to combat knife crime
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Over 2,000 knives and offensive weapons have been surrendered as Bedfordshire’s Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU) launched the county’s first dedicated anti-knife crime campaign calling for young people to ‘Just Drop It’.
In a collaborative effort with police, local authorities, education settings and community groups, officers carried out more than 30 weapons sweeps in parks, alleyways and town centres in their attempts to seize concealed and discarded weapons.
The intelligence led searches during the national Operation Sceptre were part of a wide range of activities to combat knife crime across the county.
Throughout the week of action officers made nine arrests including a teenager who was arrested in Luton after being found in possession of a 30-inch machete. Another teenager was arrested in Bedford after threatening another boy with a blade.
These latest results come as Bedfordshire VERU launched the countywide campaign ‘Just Drop It’, which seeks to amplify the wider impact of knife crime on families and communities.
Supported by Luton Town Football Club and a range of agencies in the county, Just Drop It urges Bedfordshire to take a stand against knife crime and challenge knife carrying among young people.
Detective Chief Inspector Tom Stean said: “The launch of the VERU’s Just Drop It campaign and Operation Sceptre has seen excellent results that we very much welcome in light of the concerning number of knife related incidents we’ve seen this year.
“While we remain clear on our zero tolerance approach to knife crime, we also want young people to know there is help available.
“We know that some people carry weapons out of a perceived sense of security, but this isn’t the case. If you’re found in possession of an offensive weapon you will face the law, or you can make a better choice and seek help from our partners at the VERU and other community groups to ensure a brighter future for yourself.
“The key factor here is unity. We know that no one agency or group can tackle this issue, but as a collective and united community we can take a stand against knife crime, ensuring that Bedfordshire is a safe and welcoming county where our young people thrive.”
The 2,178 weapons recovered from the county’s 11 weapons bins since they were last emptied in May is the second highest total recovered over a six month period by Bedfordshire Police in five years.
Officers from the force's dedicated Education and Diversion team engaged with more than 1,200 students in schools, colleges and universities. A number of shops were subject to test purchases to ensure retailers were carrying out the correct checks to stop knives being sold to underage buyers.
Festus Akinbusoye, Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “We have seen incredible efforts to tackle knife crime over the last month and I would like to thank the hundreds of community members who have chosen to be part of these activities.
“I will continue to invest in Bedfordshire Police so that our Chief Constable can maintain enforcement activities against possession of dangerous weapons in our county, as well as working with our local authorities and communities to tackle the causes of knife crime.
"The issue of knife crime is one that must be tackled from all angles, and we’re committed to continuing our efforts while empowering the community to join us in our call for people to just drop it.”