THIS week we have launched Operation Sceptre, which is a national campaign designed to tackle the surge in knife crime.
It is a topic which naturally attracts a significant amount of media attention, both locally and nationally, and we know it is something which is of great concern to the public.
Here in Wiltshire the situation remains very stable, with recorded knife crime rising seven per cent between June 2018 and June 2019.
This means that knife crime accounts for just 0.63 per cent of all recorded crime for our Force during those 12 months.
However, that doesn’t stop there being a perception that violent crime is prevalent, and of course any rise, no matter how small, is always concerning. Knife crime destroys lives and wrecks communities, so we cannot be complacent.
We know that Swindon and Wiltshire remains a safe place to live and work.
But anything which is making people feel scared or anxious, particularly young people who are expressing fears about the perception of violence on our streets, is a worry for us.
We are hopeful that campaigns like Operation Sceptre, which highlight the work we are doing to reduce knife crime and educate young people about the dangers of carrying knives, can do a lot to boost community confidence in the police.
We work very closely with partner agencies, including schools, youth groups and the Youth Offending Team, to help tackle misconceptions, educate children and teenagers and engage in crime prevention work to keep people safe.
There have been some great examples of proactive partnership work across Swindon and Wiltshire, which has made a real difference. Tackling knife crime effectively requires all partners from education, health and local authorities to work together, alongside policing, to jointly tackle this issue.
If you are a parent or carer then please speak to your children – you can find useful material on our website https://www.wiltshire.police.uk/article/2925/Knife-crime-and-Offensive-weapons
Meanwhile, I have been carrying out a series of Chief Constable Forums for all my officers and staff to help engage with them about our priorities for the coming year and listen to them about their views on the Force.
It is no secret that police forces up and down the country are facing challenges – we are having to do so much more with less funding, and those on the front line are regularly subjected to aggression and abuse.
All of that means it is more important than ever that I not only talk to our workforce, but also listen to them. This means I can listen to the challenges they face and the innovative ideas they have to improve our policing.
By the end of the year every officer, staff member and volunteer will have had the opportunity to attend one of these forum events, where I hope they will be able to have an honest conversation with me about the realities of modern policing and our vision for the future of Wiltshire Police. Together, and with the support of the public, we will build upon our excellent foundations and make our force even better to serve the community.