Almost 400 knives handed in during amnesty in Derbyshire

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Almost 400 knives and other blades have been surrendered during a six-week amnesty, Derbyshire police say.

The countywide amnesty ran between May 23 and July 3 and, during this time, people handed 392 blades in at 13 secure bins.

In 2015/16, 207 people were arrested in Derbyshire for possessing a bladed article, a rise on the last two years. Of these, 119 were charged and 47 were dealt with by other outcomes.

Chief Inspector, Richard Smith, said: “We are pleased with the response we have had to the amnesty; not just in the number of knives handed in but in the support shown by schools, retailers and licensees.

“Everyone has been keen to work together to educate people about the dangers of carrying a knife and reduce the risk of blades falling into the wrong hands.

“The message we are now sending to criminals is clear. You had the opportunity to hand in your knives, no questions asked. Anyone now caught with a knife on them will be dealt with severely.”

All surrendered knives will go to the Save a Life Surrender Your Knife project; a scheme run by the British Ironworks Centre to raise awareness of knife crime. The centre is creating an angel sculpture from knives surrendered across the UK.

The amnesty was part of Project Zao, a campaign launched in Derby in March to reduce knife crime in the city, which was then rolled out countywide.

During the amnesty, officers gave talks to schoolchildren about the consequences of carrying knives and worked with traders to enforce the message that knives, razors and similar products will not be sold to under-18s.

They also carried out knife sweeps in several parks, searching for hidden blades, and provided metal detecting wands so door staff could conduct spot checks on customers in Chesterfield, Ripley and Derby.

No knives were found in parks and no customers were found to be carrying a blade.

In 2014/15, 176 people were arrested for possessing a bladed article, with 112 charged and 45 dealt with by outcomes.

In 2013/14, police arrested 144 people, charged 102 and 33 people were dealt with by other outcomes but not charged.

Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Hardyal Dhindsa, said: “I am pleased that so many knives have been handed in during this campaign – even one blade being surrendered is a success.

“However, this is part of a wider strategy to get the message across that carrying a knife is a danger not only to the potential victim but the carrier. I want to work with partners towards a tolerant and inclusive society so that we can all be safe and feel safer.

“Project Zao is an important contribution towards this aim and I would like to thank everyone who contributed to making this knife surrender campaign such a success”.