Over 1,000 knives and other weapons have been recovered across Bedfordshire following a week-long amnesty as part of a national campaign to cut knife crime.
Last week’s Operation Sceptre saw Bedfordshire Police join forces with key partners and communities to carry out operational activity across the county.
The county’s 11 weapons bins were emptied, with 1,038 offensive weapons recovered. These weapons will be destroyed after being reviewed by officers to see if they have been used in any criminal acts.
The force’s education and diversion team delivered educational talks in schools to help educate young people on the legal and emotional consequences of knife crime.
Community policing teams held a number of events where local residents were invited to discuss any concerns they may have and educated on the key signs to spot in relation to young people being criminally exploited.
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Festus Akinbusoye said: “When young people aren’t in school or engaged in other activities, the risk of harm or being involved in inflicting harm increases dramatically, and that is why I believe so strongly in having an early intervention approach to issues like knife crime.
“Much like my annual youth conferences and absenteeism pilot, there is incredible value in the force’s education and diversion team attending schools and speaking to young people, highlighting the risks of knife crime and the devastating ripple it causes through communities, while reassuring them that it is not a path they have to take in spite of what they might think.
“We know the reasons for carrying a knife are complex and there a number of influencing factors, but the truth of the matter is that there is no valid excuse. If you decide to carry a blade or associate with individuals that do, you put yourself at risk of being seriously injured or worse.”
Throughout the campaign, officers carried out almost 30 high visibility patrols in areas previously affected by criminal activity, while intelligence led searches for stashed weapons took place in local parks and bridleways.
As a result of these weapons sweeps and patrols, officers located a further nine weapons and made 10 arrests, including the arrest of man in Luton after he was witnessed discarding a blade while making off from the police. The suspect was later detained while the 10cm lock knife was recovered.
“Though we have seen a recent spate in knife related incidents, the results of our amnesty are a positive step in the right direction.” said Inspector Liz Spurling, who leads Bedfordshire Police’s community enforcement team.
“The issue of knife crime is one that requires continuous efforts and enforcement, and we have long vowed to be relentless in our response to crimes of this nature.
“We welcome Operation Sceptre as a dedicated opportunity to highlight this ongoing work and showcase the various angles we are taking to tackle this issue, while sharing the amazing partners and provisions working alongside us to do so.
“I would like to make a final plea to the public. Knives destroy futures, families and communities and we must come together as a collective to make a stand against the notion that carrying a knife is acceptable.
“If you have any concerns about someone carrying knife, regardless of whether they intend on using it, you must report it. Removing just one blade from our streets could save a life.”
Officers also visited a number of retailers 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.