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The easing of Covid-19 restrictions enabled officers in Cheshire to step up their already considerable efforts to take knives off the streets as part of a national campaign.
Operation Sceptre was devised to reduce the impact of knife crime in communities throughout England and Wales.
During the latest week of action, which started on Monday 26 April, officers and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) in Cheshire did all that they could to identify and pursue suspected knife crime offenders, take dangerous weapons off the streets and educate people about the dangers of carrying such weapons.
Adhering to the regulations in place as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, Cheshire officers and PCSOs:
In addition, Bleeding Control Kits were given to a wide range of community venues across the county, including at police stations, shops and shopping centres, theatres, pubs, recreation centres, sports clubs, cafés, parks, railway stations and community centres.
The kits contain equipment and instructions that enable members of the public to prevent knife crime victims from bleeding to death.
There are now more than 200 of these life-saving kits located at community venues in Cheshire.
Chief Inspector Sarah Heath, who is Cheshire Constabulary’s knife crime lead, said: “Nationally, knife crime is a growing problem, and the week-long Operation Sceptre campaign is an initiative that the force is always more than happy to support.
“We were severely restricted in terms of the work we could do during last year’s two weeks of action for Operation Sceptre, with them having fallen when the country was in lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“With us now out of lockdown and certain restrictions having eased, there were more engagement and enforcement options available to us during the latest week of action.
“We grasped these with both hands to tackle knife crime across Cheshire.”
The highlights of the operation at each of Cheshire’s eight local policing units were:
Two men were arrested on suspicion of possession of class A and B drugs with intent to supply them following knife crime operations held at Chester Railway Station and The Forum Shopping Centre.
The operations involved knife arches and a drugs dog.
British Transport Police officers were involved in the operation at the railway station.
A knife sweep was held at The Meadows during the week and knife surrender bins were utilised.
Knife crime presentations were delivered to a number of primary and secondary schools.
Thirteen extra Bleeding Control Kits were distributed, including at Crewe Railway Station and other key town centre locations.
Several knife sweeps were conducted and knife crime presentations were given to numerous schools and colleges in and around Crewe.
A number of knives, a knuckle duster and a BB gun were seized following a series of dawn raids. They led to a 20-year-old man being arrested and a 40-year-old man being questioned under caution after voluntarily attending a police station.
Both uniformed and plain-clothed others took part in the week of action.
Six knife sweeps were conducted and 19 people were stopped and searched.
A knife related arrest was made and a total of eight weapons were recovered, two of which were handed in via a knife surrender bin.
A car and two electric scooters were also seized during an operation in crime hotspot areas.
Three men were arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon in a public place after a car was stopped and searched by officers.
Three knives, two hammers and two axes were seized by the officers.
Several knife sweeps were held and several retailers were visited to ensure that robust controls are in place regarding the sale of knives.
Knife crime presentations were delivered to a large number of schools.
Four knife sweeps and five education events regarding knife crime were held.
A Stanley knife, a claw hammer and two metal bars were found during one of the sweeps.
Knife crime presentations were delivered to schools in crime hotspot areas.
Officers also patrolled hotspot areas during the week, engaging with members of the public and searching them when there was cause to do so.
A total of 10 Bleeding Control Kits began to be distributed to schools and colleges in Northwich and Winsford.
Thirty people were stopped and searched in the town and four arrests were made.
Six knife sweeps and 12 engagement events were held, and three people were issued with Knife Crime Warning Notices.
A total of 35 weapons were recovered, the vast majority of which were voluntarily surrendered by members of the public.
Officers wearing plain clothes carried out operations at crime hotspot areas.
A large number of Bleeding Control Kits were handed out. These can now be found at Runcorn Police Station, The Community Shop at Priory House, McDonald’s, The Brindley Theatre, The Queen Of Hearts pub, The Murdishaw Co-Op store, The SPAR shop in Palacefields, Brookvale Recreation Centre, Runcorn Linnets Football Club, Beechwood Community Centre and Swimming Pool, Halton Lodge Creative Support, Esposito’s café at Heath Park, The Shopping City, Runcorn ABC at The Shopping City, CHI Community Café and Kyujutsu Archery Club at Phoenix Park, Change Grow Live, Shaw’s Butchers and Runcorn Railway Station in the Old Town and community centres in Grangeway, Castlefields, Brookvale, Murdishaw, Halton Brook and Palacefields.
Fifteen knife sweeps were conducted in the town and 180 knives, including bayonets, machetes and military knives, were handed in to surrender bins.
Six Knife Crime Warning Notices were issued and 40 people were stopped and searched.
This led to six people being arrested and two men being charged with possession with intent to supply cannabis following the seizure of a large quantity of the class B drug.
Two people were arrested following stop and search operations involving knife arches and a drugs dog at Warrington Central and Warrington West railway stations, which were conducted in collaboration with British Transport Police.
The amount of Bleeding Control Kits distributed across the town was taken past the 40 mark.
Plain-clothed officers were out targeting offenders in Widnes as part of Operation Sceptre.
Four people were arrested, including one who was caught in possession of a large number of wraps of class A drugs, and 11 were stopped and searched in the town.
One of the people arrested has subsequently been charged with possession of a lock knife in a public place.
Three knife sweeps took place during the week.
The same number of community events were held regarding knife crime and a large number of Bleeding Control Kits were distributed to community venues.
Chief Inspector Heath added: “Knife crime is an issue that the force tackles throughout the year, not just during weeks of action.
“We have a multi-faceted approach to tackling knife crime and take the issue extremely seriously, with officers working day and night to protect communities.
“We are proud of the fact that Cheshire has a lower rate of knife crime than most other counties in England, with the number of knife-related offences committed in the county having decreased by 24 per cent from the end of March 2020 to the end of March 2021.
“When people carry knives, it is only a matter of time before someone suffers life-changing injuries or is killed, and if you carry a knife then you are much more likely to be involved in a knife crime.
“As all the statistics show, carrying a knife doesn’t make you safer.
“At Cheshire Constabulary we have a structured prepare, protect, pursue and prevent approach to tackling knife crime that involves various partner agencies, including local authorities, education providers, health authorities, third sector organisations, youth representatives and community groups.
“We work together to achieve long-term change by educating young people about the dangers and futility of carrying weapons.
“We make sure they know that carrying a knife, even if they have no intention of using it, is a crime and can increase the likelihood of suffering an injury and having a criminal record – anyone found carrying a knife in public, without a reasonable excuse, faces a prison sentence.
“We also steer them away from criminality and offer them attractive alternative ways to spend their time.
“Our goal is to achieve weapons-free streets throughout the county and we endeavour – through education, awareness and action – to make Cheshire an area where no-one carries a knife, or feels that there is a reason to do so.
“However, the police cannot achieve this goal on our own. Knife crime is a societal problem that cannot be solved without the support of the whole society.
“If you have any information regarding knife crimes, or those who carry weapons, please let us know.
“If you know someone who carries a knife, reporting it to the police could be enough to save a life.”
Retailers also have an important role to play, by helping to ensure that weapons are not falling into the wrong hands. They are urged to have robust controls on the sale of blades, such as kitchen knives.
To report any type of crime involving weapons, call Cheshire Constabulary on 101, or 999 in an emergency.
Information can also be passed to the force online via the reporting section on our website.
Anyone who knows someone that carries a knife can report it to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via the Crimestoppers website.