Nationwide crackdown on knife crime launched
Police forces across the country are ramping up their efforts to tackle knife crime with a week-long nationwide crackdown.
Operation Sceptre will see officers carry out weapon sweeps and give people the opportunity to dispose of knives in amnesty bins across the country from Monday (April 26).
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said forces will also work with schools to discourage young people from carrying knives.
In London, so-called knife arches, which detect whether someone is carrying a weapon or a metal object, will be set up at transport hubs, alongside drug detection dogs, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) said.
The force will also carry out patrols in “violence hotspots” and target those wanted for knife crime offences.
It comes just days after 14-year-old Fares Maatou was stabbed to death outside a pizza restaurant on Barking Road in Newham, East London, on Friday afternoon. His death is the 33rd homicide in London since January 1 this year, the MPS said.
Of that figure, 24 victims were killed with a knife, the force added. The MPS said there was a “clear link” between drugs and violence on the streets of London.
As part of the crackdown, officers will use automatic numberplate recognition (ANPR) technology to target those using the roads to deal drugs. The MPS will also visit schools and youth clubs to “highlight the life-changing consequences of carrying a knife”.
Londoners are also being encouraged to hand in knives at 12 nominated police stations across the city.
NPCC’s lead for knife crime, Deputy Assistant commissioner Graham McNulty, said: “Coronavirus has been a huge part of everyone’s lives for over a year now but we want to remind people that our normal policing role hasn’t stopped during this time.
“Forces are determined to tackle violent crime and with the restrictions easing, taking knives off our streets and helping people understand the dangers of carrying a knife remains a top priority.”
Commander Alex Murray, the MPS’s violence lead, said: “This operation is an intensification of the work officers are already doing on a daily basis to tackle knife crime and remove dangerous weapons from the streets, and last year we saw a 26 per cent reduction in violent crime across London. We are absolutely determined to keep violence levels down as we approach the summer months.”