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Kent Police joins bid to tackle knife crime with Operation Sceptre

By Lydia Chantler-Hicks

Kent Police are taking part in a week-long operation to tackle knife crime.

The crackdown - part of Operation Sceptre - begins across England and Wales today.

The initiative comes after official figures revealed Kent has seen the fastest rise in knife crime in the entire country.

The operation launches across the country today. Stock image
The operation launches across the country today. Stock image

The number of offences in the county has soared by 152% since 2011 from 346 to 873, equating to 48 crimes per 100,000 people, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The only other force experiencing close to that increase was West Yorkshire, where in 2011 there was only one offence but last year there were three.

Figures obtained by KentOnline last summer showed the actual number of offences in the county could be higher still.

Kent Police data showed knife crime had more than doubled in five years, with 1,322 incidents reported in the 2017-18 financial year.

Almost half of reported cases happened in Kent's northern division, which includes Dartford, Gravesham, Medway and Swale.

Overall the figures show offences have been rising throughout England and Wales for five years.

But last year numbers reached a peak, with crimes involving knives or sharp instruments, such as scissors or razor blades, soaring by 8% to 39,818 compared to 36,776 the previous year.

Despite this, KentOnline revealed last week that the number of police officers in Kent has fallen by 526 since 2010, when Theresa May became Home Secretary.

The drastic decline comes as top officers call for more support from the government amid the growing knife crime crisis.

However, crime commissioner Matthew Scott pledged in January last year and again at the beginning of this year to recruit more officers.

Kent Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott (7666825)
Kent Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott (7666825)

The current figure for this year is 3,452 officers and next year the predicted number of officers will be 3,632.

Council tax is set to increase by an average £2 a month to help fund the new recruits.

Mr Scott said: "This is not about just replacing those who leave, but increasing officer numbers further to continue the biggest recruitment drive in Kent Police’s history.

"I don’t take decisions to increase your council tax lightly. I always make sure your money is well spent and Kent Police will have to make £10m of efficiency savings next year too.

"More officers will enable Kent Police to catch even more criminals, target gangs and violence, boost visible policing and help more victims."

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