Carrying a weapon will not be tolerated and you will be punished – that was the stark message from police as a week-long operation aimed at reducing knife crime got underway.
South Yorkshire Police has joined colleagues across the country by taking part in Operation Sceptre, which aims to raise awareness and make people aware of the consequences of carrying a knife.
Det Supt Una Jennings, the force's lead for armed criminality, said officers will be carrying out open land searches, introducing knife arches in schools and carrying extra street patrols all week.
She said: “The one message we want to get across is think twice before you pick up and carry a knife.
“You are three times more likely to be a victim if you carry a weapon and we also know that you’re more likely than in any other city to be caught carrying a knife in Sheffield.”
A total of eight people were fatally stabbed on the streets of Sheffield in 2018 but Det Supt Jennings said the force had changed its approach to tackle knife crime and had spoken to more than 40,000 schoolchildren across the county in the last 18 months to educate them on the risks.
She said: “The main thing we have learnt is the focus that we need to place on being upstream of the issues that lead people to carry a knife because by the time the police get involved it is already too late.
“The other thing we have done is put a lot of emphasis on the public health approach, following work done in Glasgow and Chicago to educate people about the risks."
Two knives were recovered during an open land search in the Firth Park area as part of the operation on Monday, where officers were searching for hidden or discarded weapons.
Amphetamine and cannabis were recovered from a house in the Spa Lane area of Woodhouse, along with a ‘police style’ baton.
And, at a house in the Abbeydale Road area, a large amount of cash was seized along with suspected Class A and B drugs, thought to be LSD, cannabis and amphetamine.
Det Supt Jennings said: “We all know that trying to enforce our way out of knife crime is not feasible so a lot of different agencies have to act together to change people’s minds about carrying knives.
“I think we are seeing some early signs of success since we adopted the public health approach – for the first time in five years we have seen a 12 per cent fall in knife crime.”
The officer also encouraged parents to speak to their children about knife crime.
She added: “The biggest thing people can do to help is have conversations with children about it.”