PCC Sue Mountstevens
Permanent knife surrender bins will be put in place in a number of locations across Avon and Somerset from this week, as part of work to reduce knife crime.
Avon and Somerset Police will take part in Operation Sceptre, a national initiative led by the Metropolitan Police, which aims to reduce the number of people carrying knives and to educate young people about the dangers of carrying a knife.
Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “The repercussions of knife crime are vast with devastating effects on loved ones, families and the whole community.
“I am happy that Avon and Somerset Police is taking an active part in the national campaign, although the level of knife crime in the area is low it’s important to disrupt criminal activity and take as many knives off our streets as possible. We must not be complacent about this issue and it is in our best interest to be pro-active and work with partner organisations to engage people with the message that knives cost lives.”
Since Avon and Somerset Police started taking part in the operation in October 2016, 679 knives have been surrendered in bins across the force area.
Previously, they have used temporary knife surrender bins which have been in place only for the duration of the operation. The move to permanent bins means that communities will have a safe place for knives to be handed in, throughout the year.
Sergeant Mike Vass who co-ordinates much of the work on knife crime for Avon and Somerset Police said: “The permanent bins are a welcome addition and will help support our work to reduce the number of knives on the streets.
“Every knife surrendered is one less knife out on the street, where they can and do cause serious harm. It’s not just the number of knives surrendered during these operations which is encouraging, but the type. There have been some nasty looking machetes and zombie knives left in the bins which are usually only carried by people wanting to hurt others.
“The surrender bins are just one of a number of actions we take to try and reduce the dreadful impact knives can have. Our work with young people is on-going, and will be stepped up this week in youth clubs, with local officers delivering hard hitting workshops which really bring home the impact knives can have not just on individuals, but on families and communities. We need to understand why young people are carrying knives and work to dispel the myth that knives are somehow cool or essential.
“We also want to let young people know that if they are worried that someone they know is carrying a knife, but are nervous about talking to the police, that they can contact Fearless (the Crimestoppers youth arm) anonymously and potentially help to save a life.”
Knife crime is on the increase, with a 39 per cent increase in possession offences in Avon and Somerset last year compared to 2016, and a 94 per cent increase since 2014.
Sue Mountstevens added: “I fully support the proposed changes to tighten the law to include restrictions, or a ban, on under-18s being able to purchase knives, and having to collect in person any knives ordered online, in order that proof of age can be verified. It’s never acceptable for a person to carry a knife or other weapon.”
Nationally, knife crime increased by 21 per cent in 2017.
Permanent surrender bins are now in place in the following locations:
•Asda Bedminster – Bristol
•Bridewell Police Custody Centre – Bristol
•Patchway Police Custody Centre – South Glos
•Keynsham Police Custody Centre - BANES
•Bridgwater Police Custody Centre – Somerset
Further temporary surrender bins will be in place for the duration of the operation at:
•Frome police post in the town centre – Somerset
•Bristol Magistrates Court
•Bristol Crown Court
Should an enquiry be made during the knife crime initiative (this week) and they are not able to deposit in the nearest surrender bin, advice is to take to their nearest enquiry office and for the officers to take it to a surrender bin.
Posted on Monday 12th February 2018