GREATER Manchester Police are joining forces nationwide in an attempt to tackle knife crime.

This week, Monday May 16 to Sunday May 22, GMP, along with every other police force in the country, are taking part in the Operation Sceptre national week of action.

The initiative will see forces across the country highlight the risk and consequences of carrying a knife, as well as undertaking a range of operational activity to target offenders.

Some of the supporting activity will include weapon sweeps, visits to habitual knife carriers and visits to retailers who sell knives to ensure they are compliant with the relevant legislation.

The action comes after a number of incidents in Bolton, including children carrying knives to pre-arranged fights.

Schoolchildren in Bolton organising fights 'involving weapons'

Since 2019, Greater Manchester Police have seized over 10,000 weapons as part of similar operations, namely Sycamore, Concept and the Forever Amnesty.

Bury Times: A map showing Forever Amnesty locations across Greater Manchester. Credit: GMPA map showing Forever Amnesty locations across Greater Manchester. Credit: GMP

Superintendent Caroline Hemingway, GMP's knife crime lead, said: “Our commitment to tackling knife crime remains a priority throughout the whole year, however this week will see an increase in activity taking place throughout Greater Manchester as part of Operation Sceptre.

“Although this initiative is police-led, we will be working alongside colleagues in the Greater Manchester Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) to identify those involved in knife crime, address the root causes, educate our communities, provide preventative advice, and ensure those carrying and using weapons are brought to justice.

“Unfortunately, knife crime often involves young people and, although most children are not involved in knife crime or any other form of criminal activity, we know that some choose to carry knife for a number of reasons. It may be that they feel vulnerable, threatened and at risk of becoming a victim of crime, or because they believe the majority of their peers carry knives, so they arm themselves for protection.

“I would like to reach out to parents and guardians and ask you for your help. It’s important that you take the time to understand where your children are going and who with, be more curious about what they have in their rooms and in their bags and talk openly to them about the dangers and life-changing consequences that can come from leaving the house with a knife, even if they have no intention of using it. Let them know that they have a choice when it comes to carrying a knife, even if they feel they do not.

Bury Times: Op Sceptre began todayOp Sceptre began today

“Encourage young people to look out for their friends and reiterate the importance of reporting information. If they know their friends are carrying knives and or are perhaps involved in a dispute, they should tell a trusted adult, be that a parent, family member or teacher.

"It’s also important to talk to them about how carrying a knife or even their knowledge about friends who carry knives and weapons, makes them vulnerable.  There are circumstances where your child could be found guilty of an offence through joint enterprise if they foresaw the risk of a crime taking place.

“Be aware that a young person may be reluctant to talk to you about knife crime, so reassure them that they can be honest with you, as well as letting them know that you’ll listen to what they have to say and support them without judgement.”

This comes as the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has written to police forces throughout the country which announced the easing of stop-and-search powers as part of the Government’s plans to help reduce violent crime.

Section 60 powers give officers the right to search people without reasonable grounds in an area when they expect serious violence, and to look for weapons before they can be used, or those used in a recent attack.

Bury Times: Priti Patel. Credit: PAPriti Patel. Credit: PA

“I stand wholeheartedly behind the police so that they can build on their work to drive down knife crime,” Patel said.