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Operation Sceptre draws to a close, 23 weapons found

24 Sep 2018

We found 23 offensive weapons last week as part of weapons sweeps during a week-long operation to tackle knife crime.

Operation Sceptre ran from Monday (17 September) and began with community engagement days in Bedford and Luton town centres, where officers spent time speaking to members of the public about knife crime.

Across the week, we ran five weapons sweeps looking for hidden or discarded weapons.

Sweeps in Bedford on Wednesday and Thursday (19 and 20 September) recovered seven knives, two crowbars, a hammer, a screwdriver, a used can of pepper spray, a bag of suspected cannabis and a number of improvised weapons including a makeshift axe.

During weapons sweeps in Luton on Friday (21 September), officers found a further knife. All weapons have now been removed and will be disposed of safely.

Two of the weapons sweeps, on Saturday and Sunday (22 and 23 September), were a first for us as a force as members of the public were invited to join them. Community members were teamed up with members of the Community Safety Team and Special Constabulary, who took responsibility for handling any weapons found, and searches revealed a Stanley Knife, a crowbar, and a number of metal and wooden poles.

The Children and Young Persons Team also delivered knife crime inputs to around 2,000 students across the county, educating them on the dangers and consequences of carrying a knife. They highlighted the police’s determination to tackle the problem by running a number of knife arch operations at educational establishments.

In another first for the force, a panel session was run at Police Headquarters which allowed more than 60 students to ask the panel questions and give their opinions on why they think young people carry knives, and share their experiences.

Officers also ran a day dedicated to speaking to retailers about knife crime and how they can help the force tackle a recent rise, and ran targeted patrols in knife crime hotspot areas throughout the week.

Our Licensing team carried out test purchase operations at seven shops. Two failed and the force will now carry out further work with them. In another first for Operation Sceptre, the force ran a joint operation with Trading Standards carrying out online test purchases, with four online sellers failing the test by making no attempt to check the age of the purchaser.

Inspector John Nichols said: “We recovered a large amount of weapons last week, which is concerning but also shows why operations like this are important. A number of the knives we recovered were knives that can be bought in shops, so we’re continuing our work with retailers to ensure they know the law around selling knives. After working with several shops in Bedfordshire, they have now stopped selling knives altogether, which is very encouraging.

“Tackling knife crime is going to need a long-term approach, because we have to change the mindset of a generation who seem to think that carrying a knife is normal. By working with schools and our communities I hope we can show them that it isn’t, and that there are consequences to doing so – whether that’s a prison sentence, or whether that’s becoming a victim of crime yourself.

“Operation Sceptre is a week-long national operation which happens twice a year and is supported by police forces across the country, but our activity around knife crime isn’t limited to two operations a year. Knife crime is a priority for the force and we’ll continue to work with schools, retailers, our communities and partners to tackle it.”

Officers out during the week of action
Officers out during the week of action

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