EXTRA cash has been given to South Wales Police to help tackle knife crime.
In May, The Home Office allocated £1.2 million to the force in a bid to make the region safer.
The money is being used to extend the ‘Op Sceptre’ knife crime team in Cardiff and create a new team in Swansea to focus on reducing knife crime on the streets of South Wales.
Cash will also help fund preventative community-based work with young people, targeted operations and back-office functions to keep the Op Sceptre officers on the streets.
Chief Constable of South Wales Police, Matt Jukes said: “Knife crime is an obvious concern to our communities, particularly in our cities of Cardiff and Swansea.
“The issues we face are significant – they may not be as great as some other cities, but they are tragedies for the families who are affected by terrible offences.
“We have been really focused and 12 months ago that led me to bring about our new team, Operation Sceptre, focusing specifically on knife crime in Cardiff.
“We are going to continue this activity where it’s needed most – but that is not particularly in our town and city centres, which actually by comparison with similar areas are incredibly safe across South Wales.
“Knife crime levels have stabilised in the first half of this year compared to last, so we know we can make a difference.”
The Op Sceptre Team, named after a national initiative led by the Metropolitan Police, was set up in the summer of 2018 initially as a 12-month pilot to reduce knife crime and related offences in Cardiff.
Within 12 months they have:
- Arrested 220 people
- Taken 90 weapons off the streets
- Seized more than £82k worth of drugs and £77.5k cash
- Conducted 758 stop searches
- Helped secure custodial sentences totalling 22 years 3 months
Superintendent Wendy Gunney, the South Wales Police lead for knife crime, said: “We have found there is a clear link between knife crime and drug supply in Cardiff. County Lines have destabilised the local drugs market, raising the threat and risk among local drug dealers.
“Our Op Sceptre Teams will be out there on the streets making it uncomfortable for anyone who matches the profile of those involved in knife crime and drugs.”
County lines is when an organised crime group from an area such as London, Birmingham and Liverpool extends their drug dealing enterprise across boundaries.
They often use young people or vulnerable adults to deliver their drugs, coercing them with payment or gifts or by forcing them through intimidation and violence.
The Home Office money will also go towards community work such as projects by Street Games and the Crimestoppers Fearless campaign to divert young people away from criminality.
Supt Gunney added: “Families and communities can definitely play their part in helping to tackle knife crime. They can take responsibility for their children and young adults who are on the fringes of criminality.
“If you have concerns or suspicions, please tell us so we can intervene and help divert them away from knife crime.”
Anyone with concerns can call 101, 999 in an emergency, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.