Run by the Metropolitan police since 2015, Operation Sceptre will see all 44 forces, including British Transport Police, engage in a number of actions to tackle serious violence.
"Many forces will ensure their local shops are enforcing the law by restricting the sale of knives to anyone under the age of 18. Test purchasing will see police volunteers attempt to buy blades. Retailers found to be breaking the rule can face up to six month imprisonment, a fine of £5,000 or both. During the last operation in September 2018 20 forces carried out test purchases and there was a failure rate of 20 per cent — with 99 out of 496 stores selling a knife to a child," the National Police Chief's Council reported.
Operation Sceptre commences today and will see officers increasing their use of stop and search powers, conducting weapon sweeps and targeting habitual knife carriers #knifefree pic.twitter.com/iIeST329vb— NPCC (@PoliceChiefs) March 11, 2019
The use of stop and search powers by the police, as part of the operation running until 17 March, prompted a discussion online.
Until someone who's been searched complains then the officer will be hung out to dry.— claus (@Claus4dominic) March 11, 2019
Get them knives of the street I don't want to hear no moaning this is for everybody safety. We need to show respect for each other's lives— David Greenaway (@dgreenaway2) March 11, 2019
Government should have implemented this 2 years ago and continually on a daily basis— Steve Biz (@stevema67740989) March 11, 2019
I had to watch it three times to confirm that myself 😄— David Harris (@davidjharris13) March 11, 2019
According to the UK stop and search police policy, police can stop and question an individual at any time. In line with the policy, the police have the legal right to stop members of the public and search them if they have 'reasonable grounds' to suspect an individual is carrying illegal drugs, a weapon, stolen property, something which could be used to commit a crime, such as a crowbar.
UK police have previously come under criticism for abusing their stop and search powers, leading to unlawful operation of the policy.
With the levels of knife crime and attacks on members of public in the UK, including minors, having reached record levels in recent years, the stop and search appears to have regained ground.
Eight per cent rise in the number of offences involving knives or sharp weapons have been recorded in the UK, indicating a highest level since comparable data began to be collected in 2011.
"The tragic loss of life we have seen on our streets in recent weeks is incredibly serious. Operation Sceptre will bring together all 44 police forces in England and Wales in a coordinated effort to target those carrying and using knives and bring them to justice. Retailers who flout the law by supplying knives to children can also expect to be the focus of test purchasing operations. We will be on the streets speaking to local people about what we're doing to make their communities safe and we will speak to children and young people, explaining why carrying a knife is never the right choice," National Police Chiefs' Council Lead for Knife Crime, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Duncan Ball, said.
"Police cannot tackle violence alone and this week highlights our work with schools, charities, the health service and communities to eradicate knife crime and keep people safe," he added.