Force takes part in pro-active operations targeting knife crime and robbery

Crime / Mon 13th Nov 2023 at 03:04pm

TODAY (Monday, 13 November) sees the beginning of Op Sceptre Week – a national week where forces intensify their work.

Detective Chief Inspector Ian Hughes of Essex Police is leading the county force’s work, which has driven down serious knife offences by more than 12% in the last year.

Although the work to tackle knife crime is carried out by officers 24-hours a day, seven-days-a-week, Op Sceptre Week will see a number of specific operations being carried out across the county, including significant work with retailers to ultimately reduce the number of knives in the hands of people who would use them to cause harm.

Operations will also be in place across the county and will see the use of the state of the art ‘Open Gate’ devices and knife arches, both of which detect weapons. They can be deployed anywhere in the county, at any time.

DCI Hughes of the Prepare, Prevent and Protect Team, which is part of the Essex force Serious Violence Unit, said: “While these very visible elements are key parts in our work to tackle knife crime, it is not just ‘traditional police work’ which is helping us.

“We also take a science and data-led approach to the issue, which has helped us to really target our resources in the areas where we know the highest harm is caused. We are also now scientifically recognising the actions of people, mostly young people, which are likely to lead to them becoming perpetrators of knife crime or violence-based offences – the goal is to identify and work with these individuals along with our partners to stop that happening.

“Through our ‘hotspot’ policing, we use spatial analytics to look at areas where the figures tells us there is a higher likelihood of violent crime being committed. We want to be proactive in stopping those offences from happening and this ‘hotspot’ work is now carried out by officers across the force every single day.

“One of the most important things we can do from a policing point of view is to drive down knife crime – the work we are doing is saving lives.”

In the year to the end of September, the most recent figures available, there were 1,511 knife enabled offences in Essex. That compares to 1,730 in the previous 12 months – a reduction of 12.6%.

‘Work in Essex is having an impact’

DCI Hughes added: “We know knife crime destroys lives; it affects families who have lost loved ones forever and one family losing a loved one is clearly one too many.

“There are two things I want people to understand, it’s that not everyone is carrying a knife – not even close – and that you should never think that carrying one is good for protection.

“The number of people carrying weapons is small – and thanks to our proactive work, we are finding them and we’re dealing with them.”

“We know that knife crime and violence is not an issue the police can tackle alone, and we work shoulder to shoulder with partners to address it.

“In Essex, we are incredibly lucky to have so many partners, such as the Essex Violence and Vulnerability Unit, which believes the same as we do – that the response to knife crime requires a whole system approach by working with education, health, local authorities, probation services and the voluntary sector.”

Today also sees the launch of Operation Calibre, a week of coordinated, intensive action to tackle robbery.

Personal robbery can have a lasting and devastating impact on victims, leaving them with trauma which will affect their life going forward so it is important that the public feel safe to go about their business.

Nationally, there has been an increase in robbery reports over the last year.

As part of the operation, Essex Police will be targeting offenders who carry or use knives, to take them off our streets.

Thurrock Police divisional commander, Detective Chief Inspector Tony Atkin, is leading on Operation Calibre, and said: “Our officers work hard to tackle the root causes of all crime, but personal robbery is one of the most traumatic crimes a person can fall victim to.

“This week of action will see teams across the force working together to maximise the impact of the work we are doing to prevent and tackle knife crime and personal robbery and to protect our communities from the devastating effects of knife-enabled crime.

“We’re sending a visible message to anyone who thinks it’s okay to possess a knife or worse still, to use a knife to commit a crime, that it won’t be tolerated.”

Operation Calibre will see officers resolutely employ a range of tactics to carryout enhanced enforcement, engagement and education to address the issue head-on and includes high-visibility patrols at identified hot-spots, knife arch searches at key locations, enhanced activities to arrest wanted offenders and diversion visits to habitual offenders.

Throughout the week, Essex Police will collaborate with colleagues in British Transport Police to patrol transport hubs and, supported by schools across the force, will provide educational input to pupils, warning them of the consequences of carrying a knife to help change perceptions and behaviour about the reality of carrying a knife.

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