Police Commissioner thanks people of Merseyside after more than 100 dangerous weapons seized in week of action tackling knife crime

A police officer and a dog search through undergrowth

Merseyside's Police Commissioner is thanking the public for their support, after a dedicated week of action towards reducing knife crime in Merseyside, ends with more than 100 knives and dangerous weapons recovered by officers.

Operation Sceptre (Monday 15 to Sunday 21 May) is a week-long national campaign to target those carrying weapons, prevent knife related offences, raise awareness of the dangers of knife crime, and provide young people with more positive alternatives to crime.

During the week of action, a knife and weapons surrender took place at 10 police stations across Merseyside and various hostels in Wirral. In total, 73 weapons were handed in, which included swords, flick knives and other bladed articles banned under the Offensive Weapons Act.

A number of proactive operations took place to tackle and prevent knife crime, with 29 knife-related arrests made. 544 stop searches, 30 weapons sweeps, a number of search warrants executed, and knife detection arches were deployed, resulting in the seizure of an additional 36 knives, taking the total number of knives recovered to 109.

52 test purchase operations were carried out at various stores across Merseyside to spot check age compliance with the sale of knives, with the support of fifteen police cadets.

Of the 52 retail premises visited, 46 challenged the underage cadets for identification before refusing to sell the items.

The six retailers that failed (12 per cent) were issued community resolution orders and were reported to Trading Standards for further investigation. The retailers were given support and advice to ensure future compliance, will undergo a review of its underage sales policies and be subject to further test purchases.

During the week, officers also took part in 24 school events where they engaged with more than 4,500 students. Officers spoke to young people to educate them about the dangers of carrying a knife and the potential impact of doing so.

A training event also took place with the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership (VRP), led by Consultant Trauma Surgeon and VRP Health Lead Nikhil Misra. The training was delivered to local community members and demonstrated how to stem blood loss, by using special bleeding control kits by the charity KnifeSavers.

The twice-yearly operation involves all 43 police forces in England and Wales and British Transport Police and builds on the prevention and enforcement work police carry out all year round to combat knife crime.

In Merseyside, January 2023 saw the lowest level of knife crime since April 2020, and the lowest level of overall serious violence since February 2021. In the last 12 months, knife crime has reduced by 20%.

Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner Emily Spurrell said: “I want to thank the people of Merseyside for engaging with Operation Sceptre and for helping to prevent these potentially dangerous weapons from ending up on our streets.

“I’m also encouraged to hear a large proportion of retailers and shopworkers refused to sell to underage customers during the test purchases. This demonstrates what we already know, the vast majority of people in Merseyside are dedicated to preventing knife crime.

“In the past twelve months, we have invested significant resources into tackling violent crime as well as educating on the consequences of carrying a knife and this remains a top priority. My Youth Diversion Fund supports diversionary projects for young people; helping reduce crime and improve public safety. There is still time for organisations to apply for grants to support the delivery of these projects over the summer – visit cfmerseyside.org.uk/funds/youth-diversion-fund.”

“We know that enforcement alone will not tackle the root causes of why people find themselves involved in violent crime. By working with councils, schools, youth organisations, venues and other partners, such as Trading Standards, we are absolutely committed to removing the scourge of knife crime and building safer, stronger communities.”

Inspector Laura Leach, Deputy Lead for Serious Violence and Knife Crime said: “Preventing and reducing knife crime in Merseyside is a priority for the force all year round. The results from this week of action are encouraging and highlight what our officers do on a regular basis to tackle this issue.

“109 dangerous weapons are now off the streets of Merseyside and cannot fall into the wrong hands. 29 individuals have been disrupted and arrested for knife offences including suspicion of being in possession of a knife blade/sharped pointed article in a public place.

“We know that prevention is key so that’s why we work closely with local retailers and Trading Standards to ensure knives do not fall into the hands of young people. This week saw more than 4,500 young people take part in knife crime education, which reinforced the risks involved in carrying these dangerous weapons.

“Thank you to the public for playing their part by engaging with us, disposing of weapons and sharing information around where knives are being carried, used and stored. Our work doesn’t stop when the week of action ends – so please come forward with any information about knife crime in your area so we can continue to disrupt and deter knife crime.”

If you have information about someone carrying a knife, or know someone involved in crime, you can report any concerns on 999 if a crime is in progress, via 101, or our social media desk via Twitter @MerPolCC.

You can also pass information via Crimestoppers anonymously, on 0800 555 111 or via their online form at: https://crimestoppers-uk.org