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Knife crime increases across Wales by almost 20% as police warn offenders are getting younger

Operation Sceptre in Cardiff specifically targets knife crime. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Knife crime has increased in all parts of Wales in the last 12 months, according to official figures.

Every police force saw an increase in reports of knife and sharp instrument crimes with almost 1,400 offences recorded in 2018/2019 - up almost 20% in the last year.

Knife crime in Britain has now hit a record high Credit: PA

South Wales Police recorded the most offences - with 737 in 2019 alone.

1,375
The total number of knife offences in Wales in 2019
737
The number of knife offences in South Wales in 2019
South Wales Police has been given an extra 1.2 million pounds by the Home Office to expand its knife crime team. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

It's 7pm on a normal week night. Most of us are enjoying dinner or settling down in front of the tv after a day at work.

But for Operation Sceptre, work has just begun. Every week, officers work into the early hours to take drugs and illegal weapons off our streets.

We join them for a typical shift to see what they get up to and how they tackle this rising problem in our capital.

Officers tell me those carrying knives are often teenagers, sometimes even younger. They are usually linked to drug dealing and say they use them to protect themselves.

In one night, we witness the team carry out 13 stop searches. They arrest one man for possession of an illegal weapon and they seize an assortment of illegal drugs.

The team say they recover around 3-4 illegal weapons from our streets in Cardiff every week.

So do the public need to be worried? The Police say no. They assure us there's not a risk to the public in general. They say it's just people who live these lifestyles involved in drugs who injure each other and themselves.

What is Operation Sceptre?

The Op Sceptre Team, named after a national initiative led by the Metropolitan Police, was set up in the summer of 2018 initially as a 12-month pilot to reduce knife crime and related offences in Cardiff.

After a 1.2 million pound cash boost from the Home Office,South Wales police decided to extend the ‘Op Sceptre’ knife crime team in Cardiff and create a new team in Swansea to focus on reducing knife crime on the streets of South Wales.

Knife crime is an obvious concern to our communities, particularly in our cities of Cardiff and Swansea.

The issues we face are significant – they may not be as great as some other cities, but they are tragedies for the families who are affected by terrible offences.

Knife crime levels have stabilised in the first half of this year compared to last, so we know we can make a difference.

– Chief Constable of South Wales Police, Matt Jukes

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Within 12 months Operation Sceptre has:

  • arrested 220 people
  • taken 90 weapons off the streets
  • seized more than £82k worth of drugs and £77.5k cash
  • conducted 758 stop searches
  • helped secure custodial sentences totalling 22 years 3 months