Police chiefs say they are ‘delighted’ with the results of a knife crime surrender in Derbyshire.
A total of 520 knives were handed in at police stations across the county between March 11 and March 17.
The surrender was part of a national anti-knife crime initiative called Operation Sceptre.
Inspector Richard Keene, of Derbyshire police, who leads on Project Zao, an initiative to reduce knife crime in the county, said: “The surrender scheme was held as part of our ongoing Project Zao and to support the national initiative, Operation Sceptre.
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“I am delighted that it has resulted in so many knives being taken out of harm’s way.
“We are not naive enough to think that we have had hardened criminals coming in and handing in their weapons but every one of the knives surrendered is a potential lethal weapon that will now be disposed of.
“This is an excellent example of how we can work together with the public to make Derbyshire safer.
“Project Zao will continue with its mixture of education, engagement and enforcement.”
Ministry of Justice figures show convictions and cautions for possessing a knife have increased by almost 50 per cent in Derbyshire in the past five years.
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The 49 per cent increase is one of the biggest in the country, behind Staffordshire (55%), Hertfordshire (60%), Norfolk (69%), Cheshire (72%), Northamptonshire ( 74%) and Leicestershire (96%).
In 2018, the criminal justice system handed out 21,484 cautions or convictions for possessing knives or offensive weapons, or threatening with one of these weapons.
This is the highest number of offences dealt with since 2009 (25,103). In more than a third of cases (37%) in 2018, offenders were immediately jailed. This is up from a fifth (20%) in 2008.
The average length of the custodial sentences received also increased over the same period, from 5.3 months to 8.1 months.
Justice Minister Rory Stewart said: “Knife crime destroys lives and shatters communities, and this government is doing everything in its power to tackle its devastating consequences. “Sentences for those carrying knives are getting tougher – they are more likely to be sent straight to prison – and for longer – than at any time in the last decade.
“But we are doing more – yesterday the government committed a further £100m to tackle knife crime, while our Serious Violence Strategy works to prevent young people picking up a knife in the first place.”
If you are concerned about knife crime in your area, call Derbyshire police on 101.