A week-long knife surrender campaign is being launched by West Mercia Police next week as the force cracks down on serious and organised crime.
The Save a Life, Surrender Your Knife campaign will be running as part of the national Operation Sceptre knife crime awareness campaign and forms part of ‘Protect’ West Mercia Police’s commitment to tackling serious and organised crime.
Between Tuesday 18 September and Monday 24 September West Mercia Police will have knife bins at Monkmoor Police Station in Shrewsbury and Malinsgate Police Station in Telford.
The surrender will give people the chance to dispose of any knives anonymously with no questions asked, by simply dropping it into a knife bin at their local station.
During the campaign, those surrendering knives will not have to give any personal details and will not face prosecution for carrying them. However, the force will carry out an investigation and seek to prosecute if they believe a knife has been used to commit a criminal offence.
Throughout the week, local policing teams will be running events raising awareness of the dangers of knife crime. They will also maintain a zero-tolerance approach to people carrying knives – they will not show leniency to anyone stopped and found to be in possession of a knife. They will be arrested as normal and appropriate action will be taken.
Policing Lead for Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin, Chief Superintendent Kevin Purcell, said: “We are fortunate we do not experience the same level of knife crime across the county when compared to other parts of the country, but we know there have been a small number of relatively high profile incidents locally that have quite rightly caused concern to our communities. Knife crime can have a devastating effect on people’s lives and one incident of knife crime is one too many.
“It not only impacts upon victims but also their family, friends and the wider community.
“It is important ourselves and our partner agencies work together to raise awareness of the dangers of carrying a knife which is why we’re really pleased to be supporting the ‘Save a Life, Surrender Your Knife’ campaign. We will have knife surrender bins in both Shrewsbury and Telford and I would urge people to take this opportunity to anonymously deposit their knives or blades into a surrender bin and help prevent further tragedies.”
West Mercia Police’s support for Operation Sceptre comes as part of the force’s commitment to tackling serious and organised crime (SOC) as part of ‘Protect’ which has seen Local Policing Priority Teams set up to tackle serious and organised crime and local policing priorities across Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin.
Launched on Monday, September 3, in its first week the team made four arrests, carried out 13 stop and searches and seized stolen property, two cars and a quantity of illegal drugs across Shropshire.
Local Policing Commander for Shropshire, Superintendent Jason Wells, has praised the work of the team so far and said it is an example of the steps police are taking to make the county even safer.
He said: “There is often a perception that serious and organised crime only happens in large urban areas but the reality is it is happening everywhere, whether it is drug supply or organised thefts and burglaries, if it involves a network of criminals working together we will do all we can to disrupt that network and want to send a clear message that we will not tolerate this happening in our county.
“The activity our new local policing priority team has carried out in its first week is an example of the robust approach we will take to pursue those suspected of being involved in this type of crime to ensure we protect our communities from harm.
“We know that some of these crimes are being carried out by a small number of local criminals and are working to target these people but what we are also seeing is an increase in travelling criminals – people coming in from outside the area to commit serious and organised crime. Together with our partner agencies we are doing all we can to prevent serious and organised crime in our county.”
In Telford, petrol stations have been encouraged to sign up to We Don’t Buy Crime to prevent motorists filing their vehicles with fuel and making off without paying with participating petrol stations displaying impactive signs warning people they are being watched.
Local Policing Commander for Telford, Superintendent Tom Harding, said: “While we know some people may absent-mindedly drive off unintentionally without paying for their fuel there are a number of occasions where we know it has been done deliberately with the majority of these people involved in serious and organised crime. And, in the majority of cases they are either in a stolen vehicle or in a vehicle with false number plates. By working with petrol stations we are not only sending out a warning to organised crime groups that we are watching them but we are able to take action and catch those involved.
“In addition to petrol stations, over the past few weeks we have been visiting second-hand shops encouraging them to sign up to We Don’t Buy Crime and question the origin of items they buy to make sure they are not taking in stolen goods – and if they suspect the goods are stolen to let us know. By making it difficult for those involved in offences like burglary to sell on their stolen goods we can go some way to disrupting their criminality and preventing them from committing offences in the first instance.”
Police say information from the public is crucial in helping tackle serious and organised crime and want people to come forward if they suspect anything suspicious or out of the ordinary – or if one of their neighbours has what appears to be unexplained wealth, for example they may have a luxury vehicle with no obvious means of paying for it.
Chief Superintendent Purcell added: “Information we receive from the public is absolutely crucial in helping us. Our local communities are our eyes and ears, particularly in our rural communities, they know what seems out of place in their local area and if they see something that seems out of the ordinary then we want to hear from them. Likewise, if anyone has a neighbour who always seems to have a new expensive looking car or a luxury lifestyle without any obvious means to pay for it, it could well be they are involved in serious and organised crime and we want to know.”