Dangerous weapons, including zombie knives, have been seized, and more than 50 arrests have been made during a week-long operation aimed at reducing knife crime in West Yorkshire. West Yorkshire Police officers, along with the dedicated Operation Jemlock knife and violent crime reduction unit, joined forces to carry out enforcement and crime prevention activities as part of the national Operation Sceptre in May.
The initiative was part of an ongoing effort to combat knife crime across West Yorkshire, which has seen a decline in overall knife offences. Statistics reveal that knife offences for the 2022/23 financial year were four percent lower compared to the previous year, with an eight percent decrease in cases involving individuals under the age of 25. This means that there were 102 fewer victims of knife crime overall, and 73 fewer victims under the age of 25.
During the recent operation, officers confiscated over 45 knives and made 56 arrests for various offences, including knife possession. Among the recovered weapons was a zombie knife found in Leeds (pictured), which was discovered by officers responding to a robbery report. The man spotted fleeing from the location where the weapon was found was apprehended at the scene.
In addition to the enforcement actions, neighbourhood policing teams and specialised Jemlock officers actively engaged with schools to raise awareness among young people about the dangers associated with carrying knives. They visited a total of 38 schools across Leeds, Kirklees, Calderdale, Bradford, and Wakefield.
Furthermore, officers in Bradford organised a knife amnesty in Centenary Square to coincide with the visit of the Knife Angel sculpture. Thirty knives were surrendered during the amnesty, and additional weapons were handed in during a mobile amnesty in the Leeds West area.
Throughout the week, the police and their partners also conducted visits to 28 retailers to ensure compliance with legislation and prevent the sale of knives to individuals under the age of 18.
Chief Inspector James Kitchen, leading Operation Jemlock, commended the collaborative efforts of West Yorkshire Police and the West Yorkshire Violence and Reduction Unit in reducing knife crime. He highlighted the positive trends indicated by the crime statistics, demonstrating a downward trajectory. Chief Inspector Kitchen emphasised the significance of the Operation Sceptre weeks in shedding light on the issue of knife crime and acknowledged the proactive patrols, arrest operations, and blade sweeps that led to the recovery of dangerous weapons.
Chief Inspector Kitchen further emphasised the importance of educating young people about the lethal dangers of carrying knives, with officers having visited 38 schools as part of their outreach efforts. He stressed that instilling this message in the younger generation was crucial in preventing tragic instances of knife offences involving youth.
West Yorkshire’s Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Alison Lowe OBE, expressed encouragement over the removal of potentially deadly weapons from the streets. She highlighted the significance of the seizure of a zombie knife, underscoring the need for stronger legislation. Lowe urged communities to actively participate in the ongoing national public consultation on the issue of knife crime. Through collaborative partnerships and support from the Mayor’s Violence Reduction Unit, important strides are being made to create a safer and fairer West Yorkshire for all residents.