‘Bin it’ plea to blade carriers in Lancashire as government eases police stop and search rules

Police have launched their annual knife crime initiative on the day new stop and search powers were announced nationally to tackle violent crime.

By Brian Ellis
Monday, 16th May 2022, 5:11 pm

During the last Operation Sceptre in Lancashire more than 950 weapons were taken off the county's streets and 77 people were arrested.

Once again knife bins are available at various locations for people to deposit blades.

And during a week of intensified action, officers will be visiting shops to give advice on selling knives, conducting knife sweeps, carrying out high visibility patrols and using metal detecting arches and wands in public places to identify people who are carrying knives.

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Weapons collected in one knife bin during last year's Operation Sceptre.

They will also be visiting schools to educate young people about the dangers of carrying and using bladed weapons.

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957 weapons taken off Lancashire's streets and 77 arrests made during anti-knife...

Chief Inspector Dave Oldfield, of Lancashire Violence Reduction Network, said: “This focused week of action is about police activity against knife crime, but we also spend a lot of time engaging with young people and wider communities. We aim to educate them on the laws around carrying knives and the dangers and potential impacts of doing so.

“Knife crime impacts not only the individuals involved, but their families, friends and wider community. It’s truly devastating when an incident occurs so I urge anyone thinking about carrying a knife to reconsider as, in a brief moment, your life can be changed forever.

Officers carry out a weapon sweep in Broadgate, Preston during a previous Operation Sceptre crackdown.

"Knife and violent crime are a priority and we continue to work together with partners to tackle the root causes of serious violence so that we can keep people and communities safe.”

The initiative came just as the Home Secretary revealed the Government was permanently lifting restrictions placed on police in the use of stop-and-search powers as part of the Government’s strategy to tackle violent crime.

In a letter to police forces today, Priti Patel announced the easing of conditions on the use of the tactics under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act.

Section 60 powers give officers the right to search people without reasonable grounds in an area when they expect serious violence, and to look for weapons before they can be used, or those used in a recent attack.

Police emptying a knife bin last year.

The move effectively undoes limitations put in place in 2014 by then-Home Secretary Theresa May.

The wider use of stop and search is controversial because of concerns that it disproportionately affects black and minority ethnic communities, with campaign groups previously warning that relaxing the restrictions could compound discrimination in the UK.

Authorising officers now only need to anticipate that serious violence “may” occur rather than “will” occur, and no longer need to publicly communicate authorisations to communities in advance.

Ms Patel said: “The devastating impact of knife crime on families who have lost their loved one is unbearable.

"No-one should have to endure the pain and suffering of the victims of these appalling crimes and we have a responsibility to them to do everything in our power to prevent future tragedies.”

She said the use of stop and search has increased by around 85 per cent since 2019 and has contributed to 50,000 weapons being taken off the streets.

In all there are 16 knife bins dotted around Lancashire from Lancaster and Morecambe in the north to Skelmersdale in the south.

Three are positioned in the Preston area - Princess Street, Avenham; Kingsfold Community Centre in Penwortham and at Gammull.

There are four in Blackpool - Edgerton Road; Dinmore Avenue on The Grange; Blackpool Boys and Girls Club in Bowness Avenue and the Revoe Library in Grasmere Road. Also one in Fleetwood on London Street.

Others include under Carlisle Bridge, Morecambe Road, Lancaster and near the youth centre in Central Drive, Morecambe.