'Worrying trend' sees young people in Swindon carrying knives 'for protection'

Supt Phil Staynings from Wiltshire Police.

More than half of all knife crime offences recorded in Wiltshire in the past year happened in Swindon according to a new report.

The breakdown shows that knife crime was up in county between March 2020 and March 2021 (718) compared to the previous year (694).

Swindon is where 56% of these offences occurred, accounting for more than 350 reported crimes.

The increase comes after a huge drop in knife-related crimes in the county the previous year, falling 15% between 2019/2020 compared with the national average of a 3% decrease.

To combat the rise in knife-related incidents Wiltshire Police has joined forces across England to take part in Operation Sceptre.

The project targets incidents happening on the street while also raising awareness to try to prevent future crimes from happening in the first place.

The project aims to reduce and prevent knife crime across the UK. Credit: Wiltshire Police

Superintendent Phil Staynings, who oversees policing in Swindon, said Wiltshire continues to be a "very safe county" with the "vast majority" of people not impacted by knife crime.

But he added: “However, we do not want to become complacent and we do continue to see a worrying trend amongst some young people, particularly in parts of Swindon, who seem to believe that they need to carry a knife for protection.

“This is often linked to other forms of criminality, such as County Lines and local drug dealing, and we need to do everything we can to safeguard these young people.

“One of our most important tools is our links with our communities. Our Community Policing Teams work hard to forge these links and build trust amongst the public, so that people feel confident reporting issues to us.

“This information and intelligence from the public is the key to identifying vulnerable young people and getting weapons off our streets.”

Officers and staff from Wiltshire Police work with a wide range of partner organisations to try to prevent young people becoming involved in violence.

The force has a youth and early intervention team which provides support to schools and help young people understand the dangers of carrying a knife.

Chief Constable Kier Pritchard said: “Tackling violent crime and keeping people safe is a priority for this force and we have various teams of police officers and staff who are working diligently to make this happen.

“I want you to have confidence in Wiltshire Police, and I particularly want you to have the confidence to speak to us about what is happening in your local community.

“Preventing violent crime, specifically the issue of young people carrying weapons, is something we have to work together on, and I would urge anyone with worries, concerns or information, to reach out to us. We are committed to making our streets safer.”

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