Officers from Sutton Coldfield took part in Operation Sceptre last week – seven days of action which aimed to raise awareness of the dangers of knife crime and reduce it by targeting those carrying weapons.
Sutton police sergeant Heather Jones said the operation had been a success and added that, although knife crime was low in the town, compared to other areas of the West Midlands, it was vital not to get complacent.
During the operation, a knife was found secreted behind a tree in Sutton Park while a discarded knife was also discovered at Sutton train station.
Sergeant Jones said: “It has been a productive week. Knife crime is low here compared to other areas of the West Midlands. But we are not exempt from it. Even though it is low, it’s not something that doesn’t happen which is why we put the efforts in.
“We have worked with environmental health – going into shops, like hardware stores, where you can purchase a knife to make sure they are selling them responsibly.
“We have done sweeps of areas where there might have been anti-social behaviour in the past, and have visited transport hubs.
“We have done knife arches at the bus station and Sutton train station.
“And there have been visits to people who have been involved in knife crime in the past, particularly young people, who might have got involved in something.
“We just talk to them and make sure they are adhering to things they should be.
“We do that anyway but this week we have focused on repeat offenders who have been involved in knife crime.
“We engage with families to see how things are and if we can offer support or welfare, we do.”
A key area for the police, not just during the operation, but in general, has been working with schools. And Sergeant Jones said a new app was also proving fruitful.
“We have a very close relationship with our schools,” she said. “They welcome us in and we work closely with the teachers.
“We now have dedicated school liaison officers. It’s very rare we find things but while we are there, we are able to educate children on consequences of carrying a knife.
“We have had some real success with something called the Sharp System. It’s for students and parents. It covers bullying, health, hate crime and weapons.
“It’s confidential and we have had some really good results with this system recently where someone might have taken something into school, such as a weapon.
“They might have shown it off in the playground. With the app, people can report what they have seen, confidentially.
“It’s a channel to go to without fear of reprisals. They aren’t going to a teacher, seen sitting in their office or talking to the teacher in the playground.
“We are pushing the schools to promote this as things have been prevented as a result. Children haven’t had to overcome barriers like going to an adult.”
Sergeant Jones said the most important thing was for people carrying knives to understand the potential consequences of their actions.
“We have seen a reduction in incidents occurring around Sutton,” she added.
“It shows we are looking in the right places and doing the right things.
“For me, the big message is that 51 per cent of people who carry a knife have that used against them.
“That’s a shocking figure. If you are going to make that decision to walk out of your house with a knife, you are putting yourself in a position where that could be used against you.”