WILTSHIRE Police has teamed up with 44 police forces across the UK to take part in another week-long knife crime awareness campaign.

Operation Sceptre will again focus on the dangers of possessing a knife and crack down on criminals committing offences with sharp weapons in Swindon and the county.

It follows the success of the force’s previous campaign with the same name in September last year, when 431 blades were handed in at police stations around the county, including 71 in Swindon alone, as part of a county-wide knife amnesty.

Assistant chief constable Gavin Williams said: “I am pleased to say that Wiltshire continues to be one of the safest places in the country to live and I am happy to tell you that we are not following the same trend when it comes to knife crime – we saw a decrease of 18 per cent from September 2017 to September 2018.

“However, I know these statistics may not be as reassuring as they should be to Swindon in particular, where incidents of knife crime have been reported in recent weeks. These incidents can devastate the lives of young people, their families and friends, and the shockwaves of such horrific crimes in our often close-knit communities can be felt far and wide.

“We are committed to robustly tackling knife crime, and I hope the message will be received loud and clear that using a knife or sharp instrument to threaten or harm someone will not be tolerated in our county.”

ACC Williams warned that just being caught carrying a knife can lead to a long prison sentence, even if the weapon is not used.

He added: “If you are caught with a knife in a public place and do not have a lawful reason for having it, you will be arrested. You could receive a sentence of up to four years or if you are involved in an incident where a knife is used, the prison sentence could be much longer.

“It is easy to say knife crime is a police problem but it is not as straightforward as that. Tackling knife crime is a police priority but it is a community problem, one that we can only solve by working together.”

Visit knifefree.co.uk for more information. Call 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 to report a crime if it’s not an emergency.