A day with the Avon and Somerset Police officers tackling knife crime in Bristol

ITV News West Country's Robert Murphy spent a day with officers in Bristol.

Avon and Somerset Police have launched a new operation tackling knife crime in Bristol.

Operation Hardy is a three-day initiative aimed at catching those carrying weapons on our streets. ITV News West Country's Robert Murphy joined the officers on duty.

Within minutes, PCs Christina Jones and Harry Bevan took a call. A man was suspected of dealing drugs in Easton.

The officers received a description of him and headed to the scene. There they arrested two men and one was detained on suspicion of supplying Class A drugs.

He was carrying 120 wraps of crack cocaine and heroin, as well as cash, but no weapons.

The man was taken to a custody suite in north Bristol and checked in for questioning.

Although he wasn't carrying a blade, PC Christina Jones said - generally speaking - there had been rise in knife crime across the city this year.

She said: "We've had a lot of incidents, especially this year. We've noticed a rise in knife crime and a particularly nasty trend of some of our young offenders carrying quite large knives.

"They call them zombie knives but there are all kinds of combat knives which are extreme in size and style that can cause significant damage.

"This is why the result of knife crime is so impactful now, because they're not just little knives anymore. These are significant, worrying, weapons, which need to be taken off the street. Hence why we are doing everything we can to tackle that."

'We're seeing very, very large knives. One strike could be fatal.'

Sarah Crew, the chief constable of Avon and Somerset Police, told ITV News the force is committed to tackling the issue of knife crime.

"We're doing very detailed murder investigations and we're doing heavy enforcement. But this isn't just a policing problem, it's a problem for us all.

"When we look at the tragic cases that have become familiar to us. These are children - Max and Mason, Eddie, Donte, Darrian, Mikey and many more - that's something we as a society need to look at.

"It's an adult problem as much as it's a young people problem. These children are our future, we need to create an environment where they feel safe coming to the police to say 'look after me, because I'm being exploited, I'm scared', rather than choosing to carry a knife."

The chief constable added that a rising number of incidents were happening among 14- to 19-year-olds. She said she believed the Covid pandemic may have affected how these young people learned to socialise.

Many of them are arming themselves with "very, very large knives," she added. "One strike could be fatal."

"I'm really keen to get around the table with all the other parts of society and say 'let's listen to the young people, what are their asks of us, and what together can we do to offer them that hope, to solve some of these problems?', so that they don't feel the need to be on the street with a knife," the chief constable said.