Hampshire Constabulary is stepping up efforts to combat knife crime this week as part of a nationwide operation.

The force is one of many across the country taking part in Operation Sceptre, which will see police and their partner agencies work to tackle knife crime “and the associated serious violence it can often stem from.”

This work will involve targeting those known to carry knives as well as engaging with young people and their parents to educate them about the risks of carrying a knife and what support is available.

In Hampshire, there were at least 590 knife and offensive weapon crimes which resulted in a caution or sentence in 2019, its highest level since 2009.

Hampshire Constabulary’s force lead for knife crime, Chief Inspector John Halfacre said: "Hampshire is a safe place to live, and we’re committed to do our best to ensure we continue to tackle and reduce violence as a priority.

"We are aware some young people carry a knife because of the increasing acceptance among their peers. For others they may carry a knife, simply because they are afraid. Trying to reach these individuals, and change their mind-set, is a complex task and requires the efforts of not just the police, but local schools, charities, friends and families, and prominent members of the community.

"We must ensure that young people know that carrying a knife, even if they have no intention of using it, is a crime and can increase the likelihood of suffering an injury or facing a criminal record.”

Across the UK, there was a seven per cent rise in offences involving knives or sharp instruments from December 2018 to December 2019, bringing the total number to 45,627. This is almost double the figure when yearly knife crime figures were first recorded in 2010/2011.

Lockdown has had an impact however, with a one per cent fall in knife crime between June 2019 and June 2020.

Anyone concerned about someone carrying a knife or weapon can report it to police or give information anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or by using an anonymous online form.