Guest blog - What are we doing about Knife Crime?
Steve Kensington - Community Safety Leader
Swindon Borough Council
Swindon is one of the safest places in the country to live and visit. Fortunately the use of weapons, including incidents of knife crime, are still unusual but the Community Safety Partnership (CSP) in Swindon is not complacent and continues to work on reducing the number of people carrying knives and to help them understand the risks and potential consequences of carrying knives.
Between Monday 17 and Sunday 30 September, Wiltshire Police and partners are part of a national knife crime awareness campaign, Operation Sceptre, which invites members of the public to hand in knives and offensive weapons in an amnesty.
The amnesty provides people with a safe place to dispose of knives that they have, reducing the risk of harm to themselves and their communities.
The campaign will also raise awareness of the risks and consequences of carrying a knife. Community Safety Partnerships are obligated by law to reduce crime and disorder and one of the ways we do this is to educate people about the risks of committing crime or being associated with criminal behaviour.
For a number of years, the CSP and the Council's Youth Offending Team (YOT) have been a part of the Junior Good Citizen scheme in Swindon. This allows services to speak to around 1,800 Year 6 children about various issues from road safety to internet security in order to keep them safe. For the past three years the CSP and YOT have impressed on pupils the dangers of carrying knives.
The presentation is focused on dispelling the myths of knife crime, particularly the belief given by many caught that they are carrying knives for their own safety. We include a display of knives, swords and other weapons confiscated by the police in Swindon and explain to the children that if they carry a knife for any reason, they are more likely to be harmed or even killed by that knife. We also explain the penalties for carrying a knife - and that protection is no excuse - with the aim that not only will they take the advice themselves but they will pass on what they have learnt to family and friends who may make the same mistake.
Op Sceptre and Junior Good Citizen are just two examples of the ongoing efforts by Wiltshire Police and the Community Safety Partnership to tackle knife crime. We will continue to work in partnership - using prevention, early intervention and, where necessary, enforcement - to Keep Swindon Safe.