One of Wiltshire's top police officers, Assistant Chief Constable
Gavin Williams, has written an open letter to members of public to inform them of the steps taken amid rising concerns about knife crime.
Wiltshire is joining with other forces around the country as part of Operation Sceptre:
This week we are pleased to be joining 44 other police forces from across the country as part of the national knife crime week of action and awareness campaign, Operation Sceptre.
Over the last year we have all watched with horror as the number of incidents of knife crime across the county have risen, with offences involving a knife or sharp instrument rising nationally by eight per cent.
I am pleased to say that Wiltshire continues to be one of the safest places in the country to live, and I am happy to tell you that we are not following the same trend when it comes to knife crime - we even saw a decrease of 18 per cent from September 2017 to September 2018.
However, I know these statistics may not be as reassuring as they should be to the communities of Trowbridge and Swindon in particular, where incidents of knife crime have been reported in recent weeks. These incidents can devastate the lives of young people, their families and friends, and the shockwaves of such horrific crimes in our often close knit communities can be felt far and wide.
We are committed to robustly tackling knife crime, and I hope the message will be received loud and clear when I say that using a knife or sharp instrument to threaten or harm someone will not be tolerated in our county.
If you are caught with a knife in a public place and do not have a lawful reason for having it, you will be arrested. You could receive a sentence of up to four years for just carrying a knife or if you are involved in an incident where a knife is used, the prison sentence could be much longer.
It is easy to say knife crime is a police problem. But it is not as straightforward as that. Tackling knife crime is a police priority but it is a community problem. One that we can only solve by parents, schools, the NHS and our communities working together.
As part of this community, I need to be able to count on you to support us in this fight against knife crime.
I know that most people don’t carry a knife and would never use a knife to hurt someone else.
But as a police officer, member of our community and a parent myself to three young children, I will not be complacent in my approach or my ambition to remove knife crime from our county.
This week as part of Op Sceptre, you will be reminded about what you can do to tackle knife crime. Steps that may seem small but could make a huge difference. Check your child’s bags, know what’s in your knife drawer, and have a conversation with your child about the very serious consequences of carrying a knife.
You may think these actions are a little extreme and don’t apply to you and your family. However if we are going to tackle knife crime, it is an approach we all need to take. Criminalising young people is never something we want to do but if your child sets off to school this morning with a knife in their bag, they are at risk. By taking action and by talking about the subject we can raise awareness and educate our communities about the risks and consequences of knife crime.
Knife crime can have a devastating impact on a community, a family and an individual – let’s work together to stop it and protect lives.
Assistant Chief Constable