A week-long crackdown on knife crime begins across England and Wales today, as officers continue to battle a surge in violence.
There have been 39 fatal stabbings in Britain since the beginning of the year, and several victims have been teenagers.
For the next seven days, police will run Operation Sceptre, using surrender bins, stop-and-search and weapons sweeps in a concerted crackdown on knife crime.
The surge in knife violence has been high on the agenda after the killings of Jodie Chesney, 17, in east London, and Yousef Makki, also 17, in Manchester at the beginning of March.
On Thursday, another 17-year-old, Ayub Hassan, was stabbed in West Kensington, London, and died in hospital.
In Birmingham, three teenagers died in the space of 12 days last month.
The spate of killings has sparked scrutiny of the reduction in the number of police officers in the workforce.
Sky News analysis revealed that knife crime is on the rise across the country, but that it’s rising quickest in Kent and West Yorkshire.
Knife crime in England and Wales has been increasing since 2014 and reached a peak in the year to September 2018, according to the last report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The number of offences involving knives or sharp instruments went up by 8% to 39,818 compared with 36,776 offences recorded the previous year.
According to the National Audit Office, police funding from central and local sources fell by 19%, taking inflation into account, between 2010-11 and 2018-19. That compares with the 31% increase in police spending between 2000-01 and 2009-10.
Theresa May said there was “no direct correlation” between the drop in officer numbers and the rise in crime, sparking an angry backlash from a number of senior policing figures.
Cressida Dick, the Met Police commissioner, said there was “obviously” a connection between the two, while the chairman of the Police Federation, John Apter, told Sky News Mrs May had shown contempt for the police force.
Home secretary Sajid Javid held emergency talks with chief constables last week and pledged to do “everything” he can to provide police with resources.
Operation Sceptre is a nationwide scheme which first ran in July 2015.
In Suffolk, Superintendent Kerry Cutler said: “Young people face all sorts of pressures and therefore family, friends and role models are an important influence in their lives.
“Having a conversation with them about the dangers of carrying a knife may be difficult but talking and listening is critical to finding a solution to the growing problem we have seen nationally around knife crime.”
In Greater Manchester, police are running a campaign urging young people to “open your eyes to knives”.
Greater Manchester Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Rob Potts said: “It’s a sad fact that people are not only carrying knives, but are now also hiding weapons in and around public places and that can be very worrying for members of the public.
“The more knives that are on the streets only leads to one outcome – more people getting hurt – and we are determined to act to stop these implements getting into the wrong hands.”
(c) Sky News 2019: Knife crime: Operation Sceptre begins amid surge in violence