173 knives seized in week-long targeted activity
Knife crime and violence is an issue which concerns all of us and too many people’s lives have been affected by its tragic consequences.
We have seen several young people seriously injured and some tragically killed in the last few months. This violence, often related to drug activity, encourages people to carry weapons to protect themselves, but we know that those who carry weapons are also more likely to become victims of knife crime.
Our efforts to educate people of the dangers, robustly deal with those carrying or using weapons, and taking them off our streets happens every day.
We have a dedicated violence reduction team, Project Guardian who solely focus on reducing knife crime within our communities.
Their work includes:
• disrupt those suspected of knife crime and violent activity, often linked to gang affiliation
• knife arch operations
• weapons sweeps of parkland and areas where knives are often hidden
• enforcement against those we suspect are carrying weapons
• work with Trading Standards to stop sales of weapons to underage children
• work with partner agencies to offer support and diversionary activities for those at risk of being involved in violent crime
• safeguarding vulnerable children who may be at risk of criminal exploitation
• education around the dangers of carrying weapons
• work with our communities and key partners to maintain and increase community confidence by listening to your feedback and concerns
As part of this, we’ve taken part in a national week of action codenamed Operation Spectre which ran last week (26 April- 3 May). The intention was to bring a nationwide focus on crime as coronavirus restrictions ease and remind you that we continue to target serious violence as we have throughout the pandemic.
Although forcewide, we’ve focused on key areas including Lozells, Ladywood and Birmingham city centre we’ve continued to build on our existing daily activity.
Project Guardian officers teamed up with local officers, our Gangs Team, the Drones Unit and colleagues from Birmingham City Council and Birmingham Children’s Trust along with volunteers from our local community.
Our enhanced patrols have helped us talk to people out and about as lockdown eases as we want to hear what you have to say. We have been listening to feedback on how we conduct stop and search and hold regular scrutiny meetings. We’ve also teamed up with members of the community when carrying out patrols and weapons sweeps .
We’ve been talking to young people and school children about knife crime and the consequences of carrying a knife. But we can’t do it alone, so we’re also urging teachers and parents to have conversations about knife crime.
We have a dedicated website which contains useful information and advice for teachers and parents. We have also spoken to a teenager in prison who was convicted of murder after he fatally stabbed one man and seriously injured another. His candid interview describes taking a knife from the kitchen drawer for ‘protection’ and that if he hadn’t done that, it would have been a fist fight. We’re sharing this with young people at schools across the region so they can hear from a peer about how serious knife crime is.
During the week, we have carried out nine search warrants, 127 stop and searches, made 45 arrests, conducted 222 weapons sweeps and seized 173 weapons.
This all part of our ongoing efforts which simply aim to reduce the harm and devastation violence and knife crime causes.
But we’re not stopping there - as well as all the work we’re doing to tackle youth violence and those carrying weapons − we’re now also targeting the importation of prohibited weapons.
Working with Border Force as part of an national effort to reduce access to imported prohibited weapons, we are intercepting parcels destined for the West Midlands at the point of entry into the UK. Code-named, Operation Nebular, we are currently intercepting around 30-40 packages containing prohibited weapons each month headed for addresses within the West Midlands at the border when they have been ordered online. It’s all in an effort to reduce the risk they can pose to our communities.
We are therefore encouraging parents to be mindful − would you know if your child was ordering a weapon? Are you able to check what’s been ordered on your online accounts? What would you do if you found out your child had ordered a weapon?
We know many young people who carry weapons do so because they feel they have to for protection. But if you carry a knife you’re more likely to end up using it − often resulting in devastating and life changing consequences for all those involved.
Superintendent Gareth Morris, who leads our Project Guardian team, said: “We just want to make the West Midlands a better and safer place to live, and we can only do this by everyone working together.
“We’re committed to help save lives by reducing the number of potentially dangerous weapons from getting into the wrong hands and being used in acts of violence. This week of intensified action has really helped raise the profile of this really important issue.
“We all have a role to play to make the West Midlands safe, please visit our website to find out more about how you can help and what to do if you think you know someone who is carrying a weapon."
We’re doing lots of work to tackle violence in our communities. We’ve set up a dedicated website which contains information for young people, parents and teachers on how address concerns about knife crime. This includes honest and candid interviews from people affected by knife and gang crime and can be found on our dedicated Life or Knife website.