In the wrong hands, a knife is a devastating and deadly weapon which escalates any violent confrontation to becoming potentially fatal.
This week, I’ve supported Wiltshire Police as they launch Operation Sceptre, a nationwide campaign which targets knife crime.
Whilst I’m not going to pretend that Wiltshire is on the same level as places like London, Nottingham or Manchester, it’s important for us remember that every victim of knife crime suffers a horrendous experience which stays with them for the rest of their lives. That’s why I want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to stop it from happening in our county.
Operation Sceptre is not just about putting knife amnesty bins in different places around the county, it’s about highlighting the work which is being done to make sure people don’t pick up a bladed weapon in the first place.
In the last few months, we’ve seen three high profile incidents in the county where one man has sadly died and two others taken to hospital with serious injuries after being stabbed.
Research from the Ben Kinsella Trust shows that since April 2012, around 180 people from Wiltshire have been admitted to hospital after being assaulted with a sharp object.
Together, we must find a way to stop this from happening.
Earlier this week, my deputy Russell Holland met Carol Tait. Carol is a mother from Calne, whose son was stabbed in a social club car park in 2018. Luckily, he survived but he spent two weeks in an induced coma and nearly six months in hospital.
Both Cameron and his family are still feeling the effects of that fateful night to this very day. Carol is fully behind the principles of Operation Sceptre and she of all people knows that education is just as important as law enforcement and punishment.
Tackling knife crime is not something the police can do alone. The work of our early intervention team along with schools, charities, community groups and the health service is essential to making sure that education around the dangers of carrying a knife reaches beyond the classroom and the stories we see in the media.
Throughout the duration of Operation Sceptre, a portable walkthrough metal detector known as a knife arch is being taken to schools and colleges across Wiltshire as a way of opening up the conversation with young people about their experiences of knife crime.
Whilst I commend the good work of our response teams, it’s the role of my office and other bodies to intervene earlier where necessary and to make sure we’re providing positive alternatives and opportunities to those who are at risk of, and vulnerable to, being targeted and drawn into knife crime.
This is something I intend to do to make Wiltshire a safer place to live.