Police aim to tackle knife crime and violence in Oxfordshire and the rest of the Thames Valley region with a week of action, education and awareness-raising.

Thames Valley Police will take part in Operation Sceptre, a national week-long campaign which kicks off today (Monday, November 13).

The force wants to increase education and early intervention to stop young people getting involved in crime in the first place. 

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Jules Bottazzi, head of the Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit, said: “Operation Sceptre allows us to raise awareness of this important work and we ask our communities to join us. 

“We need parents, community leaders, young people, to work together so that we tackle the fear, provide trusted role models, encourage young people to ask for help and turn away from violence or carrying a knife.

“If you are worried, talk to someone, anyone you trust. Because carrying a knife is never going to make you safer.”

Recorded knife crime is down four per cent in the Thames Valley over the past 12 months. 

Between October 1, 2022, and October 31 this year, 1,186 offences were recorded. That is 55 fewer offences than in the same period the year before.

thisisoxfordshire: The Thames Valley is one of 20 areas with a Home Office-funded Violence Reduction Unit, a partnership of all local councils, police, fire, education, health and community groups, with the aim of working together to prevent violence in the first place.

In addition to coordinating the partnership response to violence, the VRU also funds a range of innovative early intervention projects.

These include access to sport, support offered in A&E and police custody, one-to-one mentoring in schools and education packages.

Thames Valley Police said tackling knife crime remained a force priority, and that it was targeting known knife carriers.

A new mobile app deploys officers to hotspot areas across the force, providing a high visibility presence, putting officers in the right places at the right times.

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Tactics like stop and search, hotspot policing, and regular night-time operations are also used as part of the approach.

Knife amnesty bins are permanently in place across the Thames Valley and are being promoted as part of Operation Sceptre.

Superintendent Lewis Prescott-Mayling, the force’s strategic lead for violence reduction, said: “Knife crime and violence reduction are a priority for Thames Valley Police and the latest results show that our approach is having an effect, with knife crime continuing to fall over the force area.

“Thankfully, knife crime remains low.

“However, we continue to see tragic and shocking incidents across the region, too often with young lives lost or ruined forever. Any incident is one too many.”