Op Sceptre: South Wales Police expands knife crime units

Police at scene of stabbing in London Image copyright Getty Images

A dedicated knife crime team in Cardiff is to be expanded and a further unit created in Swansea, South Wales Police has announced.

The expansion of "Op Sceptre" will be paid for out of a £1.2m allocation from the Home Office.

The cash will also pay for preventative community work with young people, and back-office support for the new teams.

Chief Constable Matt Jukes said the issues faced in the two cities were "significant".

"They may not be as great as some other cities, but they are tragedies for the families who are affected by terrible offences," he added.

Speaking to Claire Summers on Radio Wales, he said young people were carrying knives thinking they were protecting themselves or even "promoting themselves" to gain kudos, as well as to commit crime.

"It's just a tragedy that a young person would make that choice, because they are so much more vulnerable to being victims themselves and the consequences of being an offender are grave too," he said. "We are seeing in some places at some times a culture emerging where it's being normalised."

However the work they had done, he said, was giving him confidence they could "make an impact" and they were "starting to see the numbers stabilise".

"We've talked to 30,000 young people over the last two years in schools to explain the consequences and explain how they can keep themselves safe and keep themselves out of those difficult situations where they might feel at risk," he added.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption There is a "clear link" between knife crime and drug supply in Cardiff, police say

The Op Sceptre team, named after a national initiative led by the Metropolitan Police, was set up last summer initially as a 12-month pilot to reduce knife crime and related offences in Cardiff.

The force said in the last 12 months they had:

  • arrested 220 people
  • taken 90 weapons off the streets
  • seized more than £82,000 worth of drugs and £77,500 in cash
  • conducted 758 stop searches
  • helped secure custodial sentences totalling 22 years and three months.

Supt Wendy Gunney, the force's lead for knife crime, said there was a clear link between knife crime and drug supply in Cardiff.

She added the Op Sceptre teams would be "making it uncomfortable for anyone who matches the profile of those involved in knife crime and drugs".

Chief Constable Jukes added: "I worry about the way youth work has shrunk back during the last period of austerity, so there aren't the projects to get in early with young people. Young people need other trusted adults that they can be with and learn from."

The Home Office money will also go towards community work such as projects by Street Games and the Crimestoppers Fearless campaign to divert young people away from criminality.

Knife crime in Wales rose to record levels in 2018 - with a 23% rise over the previous year.

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