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Last week, forces across the country came together for a week of intense action to help tackle knife crime. Throughout the week-long campaign, which is known as Operation Sceptre, 93 knives were taken off the streets of Greater Manchester, and 37 arrests were made.
The week's activity included educational talks in schools and colleges with hundreds of students, stop and search activity, knife sweeps, high visibility patrols, warrants, and visits to known habitual knife carriers, all of which contributed to these results.
We also worked in collaboration with a training company to deliver a bespoke search course for teachers and college tutors. This was commissioned through the Greater Manchester Violence Reduction Unit to give teachers the skills, equipment and training to expertly and lawfully reduce the risk of prohibited items being brought into schools. The schools and colleges can search students in a safe and ethical manner.
In addition to schools and colleges, retailers also have an important role to play in tackling knife crime, by helping to ensure that knives are not falling into the wrong hands. Officers made 42 visits to local retail stores to ‘knowledge check’ staff regarding the sale of knives.
Superintendent Chris Downey, GMP's knife crime lead, said: “This week of intensification highlights our focus on knife crime, and the importance of supporting young people here in Greater Manchester.
"Our commitment to tackling knife crime remains a priority throughout the whole year, as we continue to work to identify those involved, address the root causes of this type of crime, educate our communities, provide preventative advice and ensure those carrying and using weapons are brought to justice.
"Policing will always pro-actively police 'hot spots' and those who commit violence will be targeted but at the same time we and our partners have to think differently to reduce the need to do this by preventing violence in the first place.
"It is 18-months since the launch of the Greater Manchester Violence Reduction Unit and I’m delighted to see the innovative approaches starting to become effective. I’m confident this will help to change the mind-set of those young people in our communities who may have otherwise thought about carrying a knife.
“Fortunately, the vast majority of the public don't carry knives or a weapon but if you are involved in knife crime, I urge you to reflect and make positive change for yourself, your family, and your community, because the impact of knife crime can be truly devastating.
"I would also like to encourage our communities to play their part in helping us tackle this issue. Please share our knife crime message, talk openly with family members and friends and report any concerns you have.
"Finally, young people will often go to any lengths to look after their peers, and are often reluctant to report or share their concerns (even anonymously) if friends are involved in a dispute, violence or carrying a knife. It's vital that we reiterate to young people the importance of reporting information, as it's not right to stand by and do nothing. This is not about getting friends in trouble; in the vast majority of instances our involvement is about keeping people safe and understanding why someone feels the need to carry a weapon.
"If a young person doesn't feel comfortable reporting information, we advise they tell a trusted adult, such as a parent, family member, or teacher who can help. If they are worried that someone will find out they've given information, reports and concerns can be made anonymously through CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111, www.fearless.org ."
Young people can also get involved in a new campaign – I am greater – which unites young people against violence by choosing to say ‘violence isn’t me … I am greater’. Find out more at iamgreater.co.uk, where you can also find help and support if you have been involved in, or are experiencing violence.
If you wish to report an incident to GMP, please call the Police on 101 or talk to us via LiveChat at www.gmp.police.uk. Always dial 999 in an emergency.
To find advice on how to speak about knife crime with young people, please see here: Op Sceptre - Advice for parents on speaking to your children about knife crime | Greater Manchester Police (gmp.police.uk)