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Operation Sceptre: A new approach to tackling knife crime in Cardiff

Climbing crime rates?: Here is a simplified crime map for Cardiff, July 2019. Source: Wikimedia Commons (image), South Wales Police (data)

By Charlotte King

In light of the perceived rise in knife crime throughout Cardiff, South Wales Police have recently expanded their project called Operation Sceptre. This is a £1.2 million project funded by the Home Office in order to tackle knife crime, drug supply and serious violence across the city.

According to South Wales Police, the project grew in the summer of 2019, increasing the number of people working on the operation within Cardiff whilst also expanding to Swansea.

Operation Sceptre began over a year ago, however, it was recently announced that as part of the project, South Wales Police will be installing body scanners in various venues across the city to further tackle the city’s knife crime problems.

So far, South Wales Police have invested in eight screening devices which Superintendent Wendy Gunney, the force’s lead for Operation Sceptre, hopes will “help maintain a safe environment, reassure the public and deter anyone thinking of carrying a weapon.”

This recent development in the fight against knife crime was prompted by the tragic knife attack on St Mary Street on July 21 which saw 21-year old Asim Khan lose his life.

Prior to the attack, South Wales Police emphasised that various bars and pubs around Cardiff were already employing “knife arches” and “detector wands” on individuals entering their premises, but efforts have now been ramped up.

It appears that venues in Cardiff are being given the option to request to have these extra security measures installed.

South Wales Police have also been carrying out “knife crime awareness-raising sessions” with approximately 250 members of staff from some of the biggest nightclubs across the city.

Gair Rhydd contacted the Students’ Union to enquire whether the Union would be installing any screening devices and if not, how the Union plans to ensure students are safe against crime when on the premises. A spokesperson for the Union said, “Cardiff University Students’ Union takes the safety of all students and guests very seriously…[and] will be working with South Wales Police Licencing Department to trial body scanning equipment at specific events.

“Whilst we do not consider the Students’ Union to have a problem with attendees bringing illegal items into our venues such as knives, we undertake and encourage an active prevent program of searches both as a precaution and a deterrent at our events.”

In a statement from South Wales Police, they report that since the expansion of Operation Sceptre, they have been successful in taking 74 weapons off the streets of Cardiff, have carried out 459 stop-searches, made 126 arrests, and seized over £24,000 worth of drugs in street value.

Prior to its expansion over the summer months, the operation saw officers making 220 arrests and seizing 90 weapons whilst conducting more stop-searches and seizing thousands of pounds worth of drugs.

In reference to the operation, Chief Constable Matt Jukes has said that the force’s “dedicated Operation Sceptre teams have played a huge part in [their] fightback against [knife crime, drug possession and serious] by supporting local neighbourhood teams in Cardiff and Swansea.”

Gunney further states that “[South Wales Police] are committed to disrupting criminality on the streets of South Wales.”

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