Police seize almost 11,000 knives in just one WEEK in a major crackdown that netted a huge cache of weapons including machetes, meat cleavers, and samurai swords

Almost  11,000 knives were seized in a single week as part of a police crackdown.

The deadly arsenal included samurai swords, machetes, zombie and hunting knives and meat cleavers, as well as knuckle dusters.

The weapons – recovered in a week-long blitz in March – provide a shocking glimpse into the epidemic of violence on the country‘s streets.

In total 10,960 knives were surrendered into amnesty boxes, seized during stop-and-searches or recovered from properties and vehicles.

Some 1,372 suspects were arrested and a fifth of shops investigated were found to be selling weapons to under-18s.

The crackdown, known as Operation Sceptre, also reveals the extent to which the knife crisis has spread to rural areas including the Home Counties.

Terrifying weapons were recovered by police in Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Hampshire, Derbyshire, Cumbria, the Thames Valley and Hertfordshire.

In the same operation in September last year 9,302 knives were surrendered or seized – 1,658 fewer than this time.

Figures last month showed knife crime at a record high with 40,829 offences reported by police in 2018, a six per cent rise on the previous year.

The Prime Minister recently described the surge in violence as an ‘infectious disease‘ and called for a radical public health response involving doctors and teachers to tackle it.

Duncan Ball, deputy assistant commissioner at the Metropolitan Police and the National Police Chiefs‘ Council‘s lead for knife crime, said: ‘The increase in knife crime… is very concerning and as a society we have a responsibility to act. 

‘Police officers work incredibly hard all year round to make our communities safer but this operation sends a clear message that there are consequences for carrying a knife or selling one illegally to a child.

‘Police officers will work with other agencies to consider what support those arrested need to prevent them picking up a knife again. 

‘Police cannot tackle violence alone and this week of intensification involved work with schools, charities, the health service, Trading Standards and communities to eradicate knife crime and keep people safe.‘

As part of the operation, which ran between March 11 and 17, police cadets aged 16 or under were sent into shops to try and buy knives. Of the 689 stores they visited, 130 – or one in five – sold them a weapon illegally as they were under 18.

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Patrick Green, chief executive of the Ben Kinsella Trust, the anti-knife crime charity set up after the murder of a 16-year- old schoolboy in 2008, said: ‘Operation Sceptre continues to play an important role in tackling knife crime by taking knives and those who carry them off our streets.

‘We welcome the wider approach being taken by police to work alongside schools, charities, the health service, Trading Standards and communities.

‘But it is vital that we not only remove knives – we must also dispel the myths that encourage young people to carry them in the first place, such as a knife will protect or give you status.‘

Home Office minister Victoria Atkins said: ‘The rise in serious violence across the country is deeply concerning. I joined the police on Operation Sceptre and saw first-hand the vital work that they do to keep our streets safe.

‘This week of action shows how important tough law enforcement is and to support this we have changed the law through the Offensive Weapons Act. This will make it harder for young people to buy knives and introduces knife crime prevention orders to deter them from carrying knives in the first place.

‘But we understand more needs to be done, which is why we are investing over £220million in projects to steer young people away from crime.

‘Our public health approach will also see public bodies work together more effectively to protect those at risk of being drawn into violence.‘

Operation Sceptre was first launched in July 2015 and aims to target not only those who carry weapons but also the individuals supplying them.

Two-thirds of knifepoint robberies go unsolved

At least two thirds of knifepoint robberies go unsolved, an investigation has found.

Of 15,588 crimes recorded by 22 police forces in 2018, no suspect was identified in 10,456 cases – a shocking 67 per cent.

The Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, admitted the figures were ‘uncomfortably high‘.

Spokesman Che Donald said: ‘What is blatantly apparent is that our over-stretched and under-funded police forces are battling an explosion in violent crime which shows no sign of abating.

‘Our detective ranks have been decimated, with huge gaps in investigation teams. This means that following up crime reports becomes increasingly difficult.‘ 

Only 22 of the 43 police forces in England and Wales were able to provide data to the Press Association on offences that were closed without a suspect being identified.

Tony Arbour, deputy chairman of the London Assembly, said: ‘These figures show that criminals are likely to get away with it.

‘We will not reduce knife crime unless the detection and conviction rate is improved. A stronger stop-and-search policy would be a start.‘

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