A NATIONAL campaign will take place on Monday aimed at reducing the number of knives on the streets.

Operation Sceptre which will run until Sunday, March 29, is supported by Cheshire Constabulary and will also educate people about the dangers of carrying weapons.

Chief Inspector Sarah Heath, who is the force’s knife crime lead, said: “Nationally knife crime is a growing problem and the week-long Operation Sceptre campaign is an initiative that Cheshire Constabulary is always more than happy to support.

“However, knife crime is an issue that the force tackles throughout the year.

“When people carry knives it is only a matter of time before someone suffers life changing injuries or is killed and if you carry a knife then you are much more likely to be involved in a knife crime.

“Carrying a knife doesn’t make you safer and the consequences can be devastating for all those involved.”.

The enforcement and prevention tactics that forces can choose to use during Operation Sceptre include:

• Stop and search

• Weapons sweeps

• Intelligence led action against habitual knife carriers

• Test purchase operations

• Raising awareness of knife retailers.

The operation will also see intelligence shared between constabularies and Border Force about those who import knives into England and Wales from overseas.

However, the increasing difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic will inevitably restrict the work that can be done during Operational Sceptre next week.

Chief Inspector Heath added: “The current climate is presenting difficulties for everyone, but it will not stop us from continuing our work to tackle knife crime and to protect the people of Cheshire.

“We will continue to stop and search anyone suspected of carrying a weapon and to use all of the powers at our disposal to combat weapon enabled crime.

“Our goal is to achieve weapons-free streets throughout the county.

“Retailers also have an important role to play. They are urged to have robust controls on the sale of blades, such as kitchen knives.

It is illegal to sell a knife to anyone under the age of 18, and anyone found carrying a knife in public, without a reasonable excuse, faces a prison sentence.”

Runcorn and Widnes World: Eddie O'Rourke

David Keane, police and crime commissioner for Cheshire, added: “Our communities have been impacted by a number of tragic deaths in recent years as a result of knife crime. The killings of Eddie O’Rourke in Runcorn and Christian Thornton in Widnes are just two examples of the dangers of carrying and using knives.

“Not only did those two men needlessly die and their killers receive lengthy prison sentences, but the killings have had devastating consequences for the families and friends of everyone involved.

“Cheshire Constabulary is doing all it can to reduce the number of dangerous weapons on our streets and to educate people about the dangers of knife crime and I urge anyone with information about those who carry such weapons to come forward in confidence and report it.

To report any type of crime involving weapons call Cheshire Constabulary on 101, or 999 in an emergency.

Information can also be passed to the force online via https://www.cheshire.police.uk/ro/report.

Anyone who knows someone that carries a knife can report it to Crimestoppers, anonymously on: 0800 555 111 or via https://crimestoppers-uk.org/give-information/forms/give-information-anonymously.