DOZENS arrested in police blitz that rumbled some Greater Manchester shops

-Credit: (Image: GMP)
-Credit: (Image: GMP)

Dozens of arrests have been made and almost 50 weapons recovered as part of a blitz on knife crime in Greater Manchester. Officers arrested 47 people during the week-long Operation Sceptre scheme.

Greater Manchester Police says a number of those arrested were directly linked to knife crime but others were detained over offences that are 'very commonly linked', such as drug dealing and robbery. The force also recovered 47 knives in the week through weapon sweeps of green spaces, amnesty bins, and stop-and-search powers.

'Test purchases' were carried out in shops across the region - and some have since been rumbled by police after under-18s were able to buy knives in-store. "Knife crime is a national issue, and one we in Greater Manchester are not afraid to stand up to," a GMP spokesperson said.

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"As well as having a dedicated knife crime team, Op Venture, who are a force wide resource and part of the Greater Manchester Violence Reduction Unit, our local teams in every district play an important role in the prevention, deterrence and enforcement of knife crime and related incidents." The latest crackdown on knife crime took place over the nationwide Sceptre week, from May 13 to 19.

Police speaking to drivers during the operation
Police speaking to drivers during the operation -Credit:GMP

In one location, Irlam, 24 weapons were handed into an amnesty bin - including imitation firearms and large knives. Officers also worked with the Greater Manchester Violence Reduction Unit at Altrincham Interchange to teach first aid skills, aimed at stopping and controlling bleeding.

Officers visited schools across the region to discuss knife crime, and visited targeted individuals who are 'identified as being on the cusp of criminality' to offer support to move away from carrying a knife.

Officers carried out prevention work
Officers carried out prevention work -Credit:GMP

Police also visited several large retailers to check their processes for selling knives and ensure youths could not buy them - and while 'most' passed the test, some did not. Of those which failed, GMP say they issued written warnings, invited some businesses for voluntary interviews, issued warning notices or worked collectively with trading standards to make seizures.

A GMP spokesperson added: "Education, engagement, and diversion cannot be forgotten in our approach to tackling knife crime... We know that often people feel that carrying a knife will offer them protection and safety, when actually statistically it is more likely to be used against that person."

Superintendent Caroline Hemingway, who leads Op Venture at GMP, added: “The past week has seen many force resources pull together to tackle knife crime, something we do each and every day. Those resources have included our cadets, who not only assisted test purchase operations, but also weapon sweeps of local parks.

Police at one of the amnesty bins
Police at one of the amnesty bins -Credit:GMP

"Our student officers have been involved in the action, with one officer conducting his first ever stop and search, under expert supervision, on his very first patrol, recovering a knife in the process. Its important that we impress upon our workforce the effects of knife crime and the importance proactive policing has in preventing knife crime."

She added: "Many of those engaged with were school children, some who we had already delivered inputs to at school. This week of action is yet another example of how committed we are, alongside our partners, to tackling knife crime. It is a joint approach and cannot just be about enforcement, even though that is an important part of what we do."