Specialist officers are driving down knife crime across Essex as part of a targeted plan to disrupt gangs in our county which has seen almost 90 weapons taken off the streets.
This week is Op Sceptre Week – the national week of action to tackle knife crime – and whilst our work in that area is a 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year operation, there will be an intensification of that work across the county.
As part of that, there will be a number of intelligence-led operations being carried out alongside more public initiatives, such as knife sweeps at transport hubs and knife arch deployments in town and city centres across the county.
Officers will also be visiting schools to warn pupils of the dangers of knife crime and carrying knives.
Detective Superintendent Lewis Basford, of the Essex Police Serious Violence Unit, said the force’s work in driving down knife crime is directly linked to the work specialist officers are doing to tackle gangs in Essex.
This year, specialist units have taken more than 50 weapons off the streets of Essex as well as seizing 38 weapons destined for the streets of Essex at ports and airports across the county.
That includes weapons such as knuckledusters, flick knives, fixed knives and swords.
Det Supt Basford said:
“Put very simply, knife crime wrecks lives. “Every life lost in Essex is a tragedy and leaves a hole in a family unit which can never be filled. “My teams are determined to do everything we can to prevent more people from suffering the devastation it causes. “And we make no apology for taking an uncompromising approach to tracking down and arresting people responsible for knife crime.”
And the work of our specialist teams is showing. Across the county, violence with injury incidents continue to fall.
In the year to October 2021, there were 283 fewer incidents compared to the same timeframe in October 2020 while the number of possession of weapons reports year on year has also dropped by more than 15 per cent.
Det Supt Basford added:
“Importantly, we’re seeing this drop at a time when we’re actually doing more than ever to tackle knife crime which can often go hand in hand with gang violence. “We’re building overwhelmingly strong cases against people we believe are involved in drug gangs which means when they are arrested, they are quickly charged and ultimately punished through the courts. “In short, more people involved in drugs and violence are being taken off the streets and, because of our case building, we’re able to prove beyond doubt how culpable they are and in turn they are receiving more significant sentences.”
Importantly, these injunctions also mean if they are breached, each member is likely to end up in jail.
However, Essex Police is not doing this alone, and this approach only works thanks to the work of our partners in local authorities across the county, in particularly through Essex Violence and Vulnerability Unit.
Det Supt Basford added:
“I would urge anyone in our county who either carries a knife or is thinking about carrying a knife simply not to. “I know from harrowing experience that the knife you’re carrying is unlikely to stay hidden in your clothes. It is more likely to be used by you or on you and either way, your life will change for the worse forever.”