A NATIONAL week of action to help tackle knife crime and violence starts today (Monday, November 13).

The week, dubbed Operation Sceptre, is a national week of action, education and awareness-raising to tackle knife crime and violence.

Thames Valley Police aim to increase education and early intervention to stop young people from getting involved in crime.

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According to the force, all recorded knife crime is down 4 per cent across the whole Thames Valley over the past 12 months, with 1186 offences recorded between October 1, 2022 and October 31, 2023 - a reduction of 55 offences when compared to the same period the year before.

The Thames Valley is one of 20 areas with a Home Office-funded Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), a partnership of all local councils, police, fire, education, health and community groups, with the aim of working together to prevent violence in the first place.

In addition to coordinating the partnership response to violence, the VRU also funds a range of innovative early intervention projects, including access to sport, support offered in A&E and police custody, one-to-one mentoring in schools and education packages. 

Tackling knife crime remains a force priority for Thames Valley Police, targeting known knife carriers and those engaged in other associated crime such as drug dealing. 

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A new mobile app deploys officers to hotspot areas across the force, providing a high-visibility presence, putting officers in the right places at the right times.

Across 97 identified hotspots for violence, officers delivered over 23,000 additional high-visibility patrols in the past 12 months.

Knife amnesty bins are permanently in place across the Thames Valley and are being promoted as part of Operation Sceptre, encouraging that small number of people who may think it is acceptable to carry a knife to dispose of it – no questions asked.

Jules Bottazzi, Head of the Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit, said: “Tackling knife crime and creating safer communities is a shared priority and the Violence Reduction Unit provides leadership and coordination as all our partners work together.

“Our approach recognises that we need to place equal importance on education and preventing those vulnerable to crime getting involved in the first place.

 “Operation Sceptre allows us to raise awareness of this important work and we ask all our communities to join us. 

“We need parents, community leaders, young people, to work together so that we tackle the fear, provide trusted role models, encourage young people to ask for help and turn away from violence or carrying a knife.

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“If you are worried, talk to someone, anyone you trust. Because carrying a knife is never going to make you safer.”