Phase Seven of Operation Sceptre, the Met’s response to habitual knife carriers and associated knife crime was launched today, Monday, 23 January and will run until Sunday, 29 January.
Police activity throughout the week will include weapon sweeps, intelligence led stop and search, as well as proactive operations to tackle those wanted in connection with knife-related offences and violent crime. Nearly 900 activities are planned throughout the capital to highlight the danger of carrying a knife and the potentially devastating consequences.
Detective Chief Superintendent Kevin Southworth, Head of the Met's Trident Command, said: "Too many lives have been lost to knife crime and too many families devastated by grief.
"The success of Operation Sceptre has been recognised by other UK police forces since its launch in 2015. So much so that in October 2016 23 UK forces joined the initiative by running local anti-knife crime operations of their own.
"The overwhelming support for this campaign from communities, and our police colleagues, is not only most welcome, but it reinforces our commitment still further to reduce crime and gang culture and to remove knives from dangerous hands.”
During previous weeks of action, over 5,791 weapon sweeps have been conducted, over 1,435 weapons have been recovered and removed from the streets of London, hundreds of shops have been visited with Trading Standards to test whether knives are being sold to those under 18, and over 2,294 people have been arrested including 473 for possessing a knife or offensive weapon.
“Since the summer of 2015 we have been proactively targeting those committing knife crime, gang crime and habitual knife carriers as part of our daily business bringing together specialist units with neighborhood police, Territorial Support Group (TSG) and specialist search officers. Operation Sceptre supports this activity and provides a hard push against those carrying, using or illegally selling or importing knives.”
Trident and Area Command has, in recent months, been at the forefront of influencing changes in legislation, with the amendment to the Criminal Justice Act 1988 banning the sale, manufacture, rental or importation of knives often referred to as "zombie knives". This ban was supported by the change to sentencing laws in relation to minimum custodial sentences for knife carrying repeat offenders.
Trident also delivers educational presentations to young people at youth groups and schools. The delivery of this package aims to make youngsters think about the decisions they make and the possible consequences of their actions and divert them away from joining gangs which could ultimately result in a life of crime.
In the last 12 months officers have delivered this educational package to more than 14,000 young people across London and the presentation is now available to every school that has a safer schools officer within the Met.
Young people arrested in connection with knife-related crime are spoken to whilst still in police custody. The Met’s DIVERT program, works with the Milestone Foundation to divert young people away from knife crime and into employment or development. Understanding that police custody can be used as a teachable moment has resulted in a number of people gaining employment. Additionally other diversionary schemes are available to officers including London Gang Exit and The Prince’s Trust.
Detective Chief Superintendent Southworth, added: “When a youngster has been arrested for knife-related offences and has spent some time in custody, there is no better moment to point out the significance of the path they are choosing and to reinforce to them that it is a ‘choice’ they are making.”
Knife bins have been placed throughout London and as part of the Met's effort to take knives off the streets, officers are working with Words 4 Weapons - a charity that has around 30 knife surrender bins located at various sites across the capital.
A map showing the location of knife bins across London is available on our website at: www.met.police.uk/StopKnifeCrime/
Also available on the website is advice for those involved in knife crime or concerned for somebody else as well as the experiences of those affected by knife crime.
If you have information about anyone carrying or using knives please contact your local police via 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
For news updates and Sceptre Six activities follow borough police Twitter feeds and @metpoliceuk and #stopknifecrime