Avon and Somerset Police have embarked on a crucial week of action as they participate in Operation Sceptre from May 13 -19 - intensifying efforts to combat knife crime.

The twice-yearly operation, which is led and co-ordinated by the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC), sees all 43 police forces across England and Wales come together to tackle serious violence through enforcement, engagement and prevention work.

Nationally, there has been a continual increase in offences involving knives or sharp objects, indicating a worrying trend. In Avon and Somerset, assaults involving a knife increased by 13 per cent in the final quarter of 2023, with a total of 373 incidents recorded.

During Operation Sceptre, officers will engage in various activities throughout the force area aimed at prevention, disruption, and enforcement.

Some of the key tactics include:

  • Education Sessions: Together with the Violence Reduction Partnership, delivering sessions in local schools, colleges and youth groups to explain the dangers of carrying a knife and educate people in first aid and what to do if someone is stabbed.
  • Targeted Searches: Conducting searches in areas where intelligence indicates weapons may be stored or hidden.
  • Community Engagement: Setting up pop-up information stands to increase awareness and understanding within communities. Discussion forums will also be hosted on the Bath Community Reddit Page on Thursday 16 May and Bristol community Reddit page on Tuesday 21 May, providing an opportunity for members of the public to put questions to local officers and learn more about the force's efforts to tackle knife crime. 
  • High-Visibility Patrols: Deploying officers in areas of high demand to deter criminal activity and ensure public safety.
  • Intelligence-Led Action: Targeting individuals known to be habitual knife carriers.
  • Promotion of Weapon Surrender Bins: Encouraging the use of weapon surrender bins across the region to remove knives from circulation.

Chief Inspector Mike Vass, Avon and Somerset Police’s Force Lead for Knife Crime said: “In recent months and years, we have seen a number of lives needlessly and senselessly cut short by knife crime, devastating families and communities.

“We are committed to safeguarding the public by actively enforcing laws to deter knife carrying, disrupting criminal activities, and holding perpetrators accountable. We are taking action against retailers who fail to comply with the law.

“Our work to reduce serious violence is centred around community feedback, particularly from young voices. We know that some children and young people are purchasing and carrying knives in the belief that it will make them safer, when in fact, the opposite is true.

“You are more likely to come to harm if you are carrying a knife, and being found in possession of one could lead to years in prison.”

Last year police launched a partnership with NHS South West and HeartSafe to install a number of bleed control kits across the whole of Avon and Somerset. These kits are designed to be used in an emergency, in the time between an incident and emergency services arriving on scene. Around 150 kits are now in place, with a further installation taking place in Castle Park, Bristol on Tuesday, May 21.