People in Cumbria are being given the chance to hand in unwanted knives during a week-long surrender to make the county even safer.
Operation Sceptre is being run as part of a national drive to tackle knife crime and stop potentially dangerous blades falling into the wrong hands.
The surrender will apply countywide and runs between Monday, March 11 and the following Sunday, March 17.
During this time the public will be able to anonymously hand in unwanted knives, including knives that are prohibited, to surrender bins at police station front counters.
Cumbria continues to see a lower number of knife offences than other areas of the UK.
But officers are not complacent about the risk – and they want as many knives as possible to be handed over during the week.
The last time the operation was run, in September last year, a total of 113 potential weapons were received by Cumbria Constabulary.
Blades handed over included a Samurai sword, meat cleavers, throwing stars, machetes and a dagger.
Last year (2018) there were 153 crimes in Cumbria where a knife or sharp instrument was used during the offence– down on 157 the year before.
There were also 146 offences of possessing a blade in 2018 – up from 114 the year before.
Superintendent Mark Pannone is leading the initiative in Cumbria.
He said: “Operation Sceptre has been a success every time it has been held in Cumbria, with many potentially dangerous blades handed in to police.
“Those potential weapons can no longer be used to hurt anybody.
“In these recent surrender periods we have seen large numbers of people take the chance to make their communities safer by handing in knives.
“Fortunately, in Cumbria we do not have a specific knife crime culture and we continue to see a lower number of incidents than in other areas of the UK.
“However, we take the issue extremely serious.
“There are people who will use knives as part of criminality and this will not be tolerated.”
Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, said: “I appreciate that a knife surrender is nothing new but, with this one, I really want to remind people about the appalling violence and knife crime we have seen in London and other large cities in the last year, resulting in the loss of too many young lives.
“We do not want to see this in Cumbria so I would ask people to think hard about this knife surrender; not just for yourself but also to bring it to the attention of anyone you may know who has a weapon which could potentially take a life – and see the person using it destroy their own lives by being locked away for a long time.
“There is no excuse and no sympathy for anyone going onto the streets with a knife.
“If you are arrested and found guilty of carrying an offensive weapon in public, you can be sentenced, with up to four years in prison.
“Operation Sceptre is an opportunity to avoid temptation and the risk of getting into very serious trouble by handing weapons into the police to be disposed of safely – please take it.”
Supt Pannone said work is carried out regularly to reduce the impact of knife crime and inform people about the dangers.
“Officers and community support officers hold sessions with schools and youth groups to educate young people on the danger of knives,” he added.
“Every knife that is handed in to police is one less knife that can be used to hurt somebody – or worse.
“I would encourage anyone who has a knife that they want to safely dispose of to take this opportunity to do so.”
Knife surrender bins will be available at the following police stations between the below times:
- Carlisle (Durranhill) – from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Saturday, and 10am to 8pm on the Sunday;
- Penrith (Hunter Lane) – from 9am to 1pm, Monday to Saturday;
- Workington – from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Saturday, and 10am to 8pm on the Sunday;
- Whitehaven – from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Saturday;
- Barrow – from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Saturday, and 10am to 8pm on the Sunday;
- Kendal – from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday and Saturday, 8am to 12pm.
Anyone wishing to bring knives or weapons for destruction should consider how they are transported to police stations. Please bring them wrapped up or boxed so that they remain safe while being carried. If in doubt, please contact 101 for further advice.