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More than 660 knives and blades handed in across Dyfed-Powys during week-long amnesty

MORE than 660 knives and blades were handed in across Dyfed-Powys Police as part of Operation Sceptre.

The force took part in the national knife crime awareness and amnesty campaign from March 11 to 17, visiting shops, schools, youth clubs and partner agencies to advise on the laws around selling and carrying knives.

Knife amnesty bins were also placed at police stations in each of the force’s four divisions, where people could dispose of blades with no questions asked.

326 blades were handed in across Carmarthenshire, including nine swords, one axe and one knuckle duster. Around 200 of these blades were surrendered at the amnesty bin at Carmarthen Police Station.

In Pembrokeshire, 115 knives and blades were collected at amnesty bins, including a walking stick with a concealed blade and a machete. In Powys and Ceredigion, 137 and 41 blades were handed in respectively, including a sword and an axe.

Inspector Tim Davies, who led the operation, said: “Op Sceptre was an opportunity for us to educate people about the laws around selling and carrying knives, as well as allowing people to hand in knives or blades as part of the amnesty.

“During this week, 661 knives have been taken off the streets, many of which were illegal items with concealed blades, which is a significant increase on the number of knives surrendered during the previous operation in September.

“We understand that this increase might cause concern in our communities, and we would like to assure that Dyfed-Powys remains a safe area to live and work.

“Our force has a lower rate of knife crime than the national average – in the year ending March 2018, there were 31 crimes involving knives per 100,000 of the population in Dyfed-Powys. Across Wales, this figure stands at 37, and nationally there were 69 knife crimes per 100,000 people during the same period.

“We attribute the higher number of knives surrendered during this amnesty to the increased awareness of knife crime nationally, and not to an increase in knife-related crime in Dyfed-Powys.”

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During the week-long operation, officers visited shops across the force area, advising on the laws around selling knives.

While they were at a store in Haverfordwest, officers were given 42 credit card knives to dispose of. They were handed a box containing 42 black plastic items around the size of a credit card. On opening the card, a hidden blade was revealed which could lock in place. Knives with a lockable blade are illegal to carry, so officers took the items away to be destroyed.

Neighbourhood teams also took the opportunity to work with businesses, community groups and partner agencies, looking at ways in which they can work together to combat knife crime.

At Llanelli and Carmarthen train stations, a joint stop and search operation took place with British Transport Police. Knife crime and County Lines activity was targeted with the use of a passive line dog.

Neighbourhood teams also visited magistrates courts to ensure anyone attempting to enter with a knife was dealt with appropriately.

“Following the operation, we have developed a new protocol around the seizure of knives at magistrates court,” Insp Davies said.

“We are pleased to report that the day after this protocol was introduced, a man who attended a court in possession of a knife was arrested, charged and remanded to court for sentencing. He was jailed for 42 weeks.

“The effects of knife crime can be devastating, and we are committed to doing all we can to spread the message that carrying a knife is not ok.

“Although this week-long operation has come to an end, we are keen to reach out to members of the public who may have information about people who carry knives. I would encourage anyone with information to have the confidence to come forward and report it by calling 101.”