Early intervention to tackle knife crime
This week looks at Operation Sceptre, a biannual national campaign with a targeted approach to raise awareness about knife crime through action and education.
Fortunately, here in Wiltshire and Swindon we do not have the level of knife crime like the larger metropolitan areas of the UK, we live in a very safe county where knife crime only effects a small amount of people within our communities, however it does stem from similar social issues as large urban areas such as deprivation, drugs and violence - a few of the underlying issues which can lead to knife crime.
Alongside Wiltshire Police's operational frontline policing, the PCC office work closely with the Force's Improvement and Change department which includes a youth and early intervention team, who work closely with partners across the county to speak directly to children, teenagers, parents, carers, schools and colleges.
Across the organisation, through early intervention and with more targeted approaches such as the Youth Restorative Intervention Panel, Wiltshire Police is committed to trying to divert young people away from the criminal justice system.
It is important that we have a police force and officers who can build positive, trusted relationships with children and teenagers at the earliest opportunity and work with partners to get the support they need. In terms of Op Sceptre, early intervention is crucial - getting to the youngsters before they turn to use a blade.
My office supports the Force's work directly with young people through our Mini Police and Cadet schemes and work with our partners to raise awareness and provide a combined resource based approach. We are currently working with the Fearless charity to educate our partners on the signs of exploitation, and how each agency can contribute to the disruption of criminal activity.
The Wiltshire Police Youth Restorative Intervention Panel has been in place for over a year now and considers alternative disposals to Youth Cautions - allowing the perpetrator not to be necessarily criminalised but helped through restorative justice in the hope this will save them from entering the criminal justice system.
All these schemes help, but there is not one solution to knife crime. A true joined-up approach is a hugely successful way of getting to the root of a problem and, hopefully, reducing crime and vulnerability.
My office is committed to tackling issues associated with knife crime, and we will continue with our efforts to work with others to take more responsibility for the signs of knife crime in our communities, with the main aim being to stop youngsters from making that first flawed step of carrying a knife.