Wiltshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Philip Wilkinson, says education and early intervention play crucial roles in addressing knife crime and stopping young people from being involved in criminal activities.
This follows the latest instalment of Operation Sceptre, a biannual national knife crime intensification campaign, where locally, the focus was on the introduction of permanent knife surrender bins in Swindon and a new series of preventative workshops aimed at schoolchildren called “The Blunt Truth”.
A number of bladed articles have already been left in the bins, which have been installed at strategic points around the town since the start of last week (Nov 13).
However, during an incident in Swindon on Thursday (Nov 23), a man in twenties was stabbed and taken to the Great Western Hospital for treatment as a result of his injuries.
Mr Wilkinson says the introduction of the bins could save lives:
“In the first week of the wider public being made aware of the permanent knife surrender bins in Swindon, twenty-eight weapons have already been handed in.”
“That’s twenty-eight knives out of circulation and potentially, a situation where someone could be either seriously injured or worse has been avoided.”
“Clearly, this has been overshadowed by another incident in Swindon which has left a young man needing hospital treatment. This only highlights the importance of interventions such as the “Blunt Truth” where the NHS can continue to make a difference in the classroom as well as in A&E”
The "Blunt Truth" is an hour-long workshop, funded by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, which aims to encourage young people to report through their school, the police or through FEARLESS (youth arm of Crimestoppers) if someone they know is carrying a knife.
As part of Operation Sceptre, schools from Devizes and Swindon hosted Katie Rix, an ED Paediatric Senior Sister with the Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the team from Wiltshire Police's Youth and Early Intervention unit who delivered the Blunt Truth workshops.
More schools will take part in sessions throughout the year and in 2024.
Wiltshire Police also carried out eighteen sweeps across Wiltshire during Operation Sceptre, with one knife being recovered.
Ten knife test purchase operations also took place in Swindon using the Wiltshire Police cadets, where four of the stores visited failed to correctly check ID.
The Police and Crime Commissioner called on the stores to improve their staff training:
"It's disappointing to see these results, especially as we're not talking about independent shops with stretched resources who have failed this test, but national chains who should have the systems and budgets in place to ensure their staff are equipped to challenge anyone who wants to purchase a knife, should they feel it necessary."