Wiltshire Police is raising awareness about knife crime as part of national campaign

Alert message sent 09/11/2020 14:42:00

Information sent on behalf of Wiltshire Police

Wiltshire Police is raising awareness about knife crime as part of a national week of action and education.

Operation Sceptre launches today (09/11) and will combine operational activity with an increased focus on informing young people, parents, carers and schools about the work taking place to tackle violent crime.

Officers and staff from Wiltshire Police work with a wide range of partner organisations, including the two local authorities, public help, youth workers and charities, with the aim of coming together to help prevent young people becoming involved in violence.

Head of Improvement and Change Sonja Leith said partnership working was key in approaching youth violence from every angle.

She said: “Firstly, I want to make it clear that Wiltshire is a very safe county and, thankfully, knife crime is something which only impacts a very small proportion of people living here.

“But, for those people it does impact, the consequences can be devastating.

“We are focusing this week of action on young people and the worrying fact that we are seeing an increase in teenagers and young people finding themselves caught up in violence and criminality.

“However this is not something that we as a police force can fix on our own.

“We cannot “police” our way out of this problem. We need to take a step back and work out how everyone can work together to tackle the root causes of why young people become involved in knife crime and what can be done to prevent the issues in the first place.”

She added: “It is also worth remembering the wider impact of the perception of knife crime on young people.

“We know that very often teenagers are fearful or nervous of violent crime even if they are not directly involved. Perhaps it is something which is happening in their local community which has an impact on them, or perhaps it is just a perception of crime through media reporting or things they have watched on television.

“We need to get that balance right between equipping young people with the information they need to keep themselves safe, while not frightening them unnecessarily.”

Although there will be operational and educational work taking place across the whole of the force area, there will be a specific focus on areas which have seen a recent escalation in youth violence.

The areas of Pinehurst and Penhill, in Swindon, have received targeted police attention over recent months and officers will continue to carry out proactive work in these areas throughout the week of action.

Superintendent Phil Staynings said a continued approach was needed to get to the root of the problems.

He said: “We know that knife crime is often inextricably linked to other types of criminality, including child exploitation and illegal drugs.

“We see children and teenagers drawn into this activity, usually at a low-level at first, but this criminality quickly escalates and eventually can include serious violence.

“As a police force we need a strong, visible police presence in areas where we know there is a problem, using community intelligence to target those known offenders and get drugs and weapons off our streets.

“But this will only have a long-term impact if we work closely with partners to ensure the relevant support is in place to either help teenagers back on the straight and narrow or, ideally, stop them getting involved in crime in the first place.”
Message sent by
Siobhan Stayt (Police, Media Officer, Wiltshire)

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