'Ditch a knife and save lives' - Knife crime crackdown as police officers urge people to hand in blades

Chief Superintendent Joanne Park-Simmons with a knife-surrender bin
Chief Superintendent Joanne Park-Simmons with a knife-surrender bin -Credit:Northumbria Police

North East cops are urging people to ditch their weapons as part of a week-long operation to crack down on knife crime.

Northumbria Police is backing Operation Sceptre, which the force has described as a week of activity "aimed at tackling knife crime and getting more weapons out of the wrong hands". The initiative builds on work that takes place more generally to target offenders and educate people about the dangers of carrying knives.

The week will see Trading Standards teams work with retailers to ensure they're following legal guidelines, and targeted patrols and searches across the Northumbria Police force area. Officers will also be carrying out search warrants and patrolling at transport hubs.

It comes after ChronicleLive launched its Stop Lives Taking Lives campaign last year and has been telling the stories of families whose lives have been ripped apart by knife crime in a bid to make people truly understand the devastating consequences which can be caused by carrying or using a knife.

The 'Stop Knives Taking Lives' campaign also aims to makes people aware of knife laws, to act as a deterrent, and signposts people to places they can get help.

Knife "surrender bins" will also be in place at seven police stations in the area, while officers will run sessions at schools too. Chief Superintendent Joanne Park-Simmons, the force's knife crime lead. encouraged the public to get involved and help share the message of how dangerous carrying knives can be with their friends and families - especially if they are parents.

The top cop said: "As a Force, we sadly know all too well the utter devastation that knife crime can cause, not only to the victims and their families but also the loved ones and friends of those who carry out such violence. We are under no illusions of the work that is required to combat knife crime, and each and every day our officers are tasked to target those individuals who cause harm in our communities.

"Operation Sceptre is a great opportunity for us to carry out enhanced activity in this area, targeting offenders, getting weapons out of circulation and educating young people on why they should under no circumstances be carrying knives."

Ch Supt Park-Simmons added: "We are also calling on the public to help us by playing their part. Please use the opportunity provided this week to hand in any unwanted knives or sharp objects so there is no chance that they can fall into the wrong hands."

She also urged parents and cares to "have those difficult conversations" with young people, and said anyone with concerns about someone who could be in possession of a knife should not hesitate to contact the police, either directly or through Crimestoppers.

She said: "Together, we can keep our region safe and further reduce knife crime incidents in our communities."

The knife surrender bins will be in place until May 19 at police stations in Bedlington, Hexham, Middle Engine Lane in Wallsend, Forth Banks and Etal Lane in Newcastle, Gateshead, Millbank in South Shields and Southwick in Sunderland. Station opening times are available on the Northumbria Police website.

Anyone with information about someone who is in possession of a prohibited weapon, or who wants to report any suspicious activity relating to knife crime, is asked to contact the police via the ‘Report’ page on the Northumbria Police website. Alternatively, speak to the charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555 111. If a crime is taking place, always call 999.