Superintendent Adam Ward, who is leading the Force’s drive to crack down on knife crime, said: “We decided to launch our campaign this way – in town centres on a Friday evening – to make people really stop and think and to start a conversation. The messages, which will also reach people across Northamptonshire over the coming months in a variety of ways such as social media and bus advertising, makes a statement about a commonly-held misconception and then highlights why it just isn’t the case.
“The messages are preventative – they are about making people realise carrying a knife in the first place is a really bad idea and has serious, potentially fatal and life-changing consequences. We understand that people consider carrying a knife for a variety of reasons and we want to make them realise why those reasons aren’t right.
“Knife crime is a matter of priority to us and has had fatal and life-destroying consequences in our county and the rest of the country. However, it’s really important to remember the vast majority of people don’t carry knives – it’s not a normal thing to do. It’s the small minority that do that commit these offences and we are committed to both preventing people carrying knives in the first place and taking robust action against offenders.”
The countywide operational campaign involves police officers, staff and volunteers from all manner of departments including neighbourhood and response teams, CID, the Road Crime Team, Public Protection, Special Constabulary, Northamptonshire Emergency Services Cadets and more. Activity will include engagement with people in the community, hotspot patrols, weapons sweeps, use of the knife arch and knife amnesties. Warrants will be executed and there will also be covert tactics involving plain clothes officers.
Superintendent Ward said: “Knife crime is insidious – knives can be and are involved in different crime types, from gang-related offences to domestic abuse. That’s why this planned operational campaign builds on our multi-team approach and work with partner agencies and communities. We all need to work together to reduce the risk and harm – and loss of lives - caused by knives.
“I’d like to offer a huge thanks to those who have offered their support in letting us light up their buildings tonight and to the University of Northampton, Tresham College, Moulton College and Northampton College for their support of the campaign.
“Reducing knife crime is a long-term, societal change which means making sure the next generation understand the risks. In addition to ongoing policing activity, we are working with partners in education on a lesson pack that is planned to be delivered next year into every school in Northamptonshire.”
The locations being lit up include All Saints Church in Northampton, Creative Cupcakes in Cambridge Street, Wellingborough, Cash Converters in Silver Street, Kettering, and Primark in Willow Place, Corby.
Chief Constable Nick Adderley said: “Earlier this year I announced that knife crime is a matter of priority for Northamptonshire Police and today’s campaign launch marks the start of a drive to persuade people that there is no need to carry a knife.
“The vast majority of people don’t carry knives and are never affected by knife crime, however, the impact of incidents involving knives can be devastating and stay with people for the rest of their life.
“Recent events have shone a spotlight on what can happen if people decide to carry a knife. Young people have ended up in hospital with knife injuries and two 16-year-old boys died as a result of stab wounds in separate incidents over the summer.
“Alongside my officers, I am determined to tackle this issue whether it’s the use of knives in domestic incidents, gang, or street violence.”
Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold said: “Making communities safer and more resilient is not something any one organisation can tackle alone. Robust police enforcement, in taking knives off the streets, creates reassurance and makes us all safer – it is fundamental.
“But enforcement has to work alongside prevention and early intervention so that young people are given positive role models and support at an early stage, and the wider social issues have to be tackled. I support this campaign and the involvement of partners and agencies alongside police, so that we have the greatest opportunity of making an impact and changing behaviour.”