A NEW police knife amnesty aims to get the lethal weapons of our streets and reduce knife crime.

As part of a national initiative – known as Operation Sceptre – Wiltshire Police are highlighting the dangers of carrying knives and setting up amnesty bins to encourage people to hand weapons in.

Sgt David Tippetts, who is the lead officer for the amnesty, said: “If you carry a knife you are much more likely to become a victim from a violent crime and have that knife used against you.

“Just by not carrying a knife you are reducing the risk of getting harm.

“Compared to the national pictures we have seen a reduction in knife crimes in Swindon but an increase of possession offences.

“There’s a decrease in actual offences where knives are used, so the fact that we seen an increase of possession is probably due to the fact that we are targeting those people who are carrying knives better.

“We are stopping them before that they actually get the opportunity to use them or have those weapons used against them.”

Swindon Advertiser: Swindon Sgt David Tippetts is playing a key role in this year's knife amnesty Swindon Sgt David Tippetts is playing a key role in this year's knife amnesty

Ass Chf Con Maggie Blyth added: “The danger of carrying a knife is that when things go wrong, they go wrong very badly.

“If you get into an argument or an incident where you use that knife somebody can die and people do die.

“That’s the real risk of carrying knives and weapons.”

Between June 2018 and June 2019, the county saw a rise of seven per cent, which means that knife crime is 0.63 of all the recorded offences in this time period.

Ms Blyth said: “We have all seen an increase in serious violence across the country.

“We are lucky in Wiltshire we haven’t seen that same rise in serious violence, but we are not complacent, so we think this campaign allows people to keep themselves safe.”

The knife amnesty gives people the chance to dispose of knives and weapons without repercussions by taking them to one of the four locations in Swindon – Gablecross police station, Broadgreen Community Centre, the town centre policing point and Pinetrees Community Centre.

Swindon Advertiser: Amnesty bin in Broadgreen Community Centre Amnesty bin in Broadgreen Community Centre

Last year, more than 70 weapons were handed in Gablecross Station alone.

Ms Blyth added: “We know that last year it was successful in both raising awareness and in individuals coming forward and handing knife and weapons in a safe way.

“We have provided information, as long as anyone can prove that they were carrying knives or the weapons for the disposing of it, then we would encourage them to do that.

“This is primarily about keeping people safe and keeping our community safe.

“We want to reassure people that it’s the right thing to do to hand their weapons in.”

South Swindon Parish Council is involved by hosting bins and spreading the word.

Parish councillor Chris Watts said: “It’s important that we are all involved in this incredibly important project.

“We have been involved in making sure that we can give good information to local authorities and the police.

“This is an amnesty so it has to be done genuinely. People need to know that if they do come in, they can hand their knives in with anonymity and without repercussions.”

To help reduce the number of crimes in Swindon, the parish council hired a youth work aiming to focus on young people and resolve problems.

Chris added: “This is a first step, we realise that the problem has gone out of control, but it needs funding so we can continue.”

READ MORE: SPECIAL REPORT: Educating children can help reduce knife crime in Swindon

Police and crime commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon Angus Macpherson said the community plays an important in tackling this issue.

He said: “The reality is that the police cannot tackle this alone and need to draw upon those same communities to play an equal part. People giving the police intelligence and information to help them build a case against individuals and subsequently tackle the issue.”