Random searched for knives carried out in Witney
Random searches for knives and bladed weapons were carried out in Witney on Saturday (9/6) to show that carrying a knife, and alcohol-fuelled violent crime, will not be tolerated in West Oxfordshire.
Four search arches, similar to the metal detectors used for security at airports, were deployed in the Woolgate Centre.
This is the first time search arches have been used operationally in West Oxfordshire. It contributes to the forcewide campaign, Operation Blunt, which was launched in November to tackle knife crime and reduce the number of people who routinely carry knives on the streets.
Local neighbourhood Sgt Scott Evans said: "The aim of the operation was to tackle the issue of people carrying knifes. We wanted to demonstrate the equipment we have available and to educate people that carrying a weapon will not keep you safe.
"The highly visible police team of 11, which included neighbourhood officers and police community support officers (PCSOs), screened 1487 people between 10am and 2pm.
"I am extremely pleased to report that no one was found carrying a knife. Working in partnership with the Woolgate Centre, we had a very positive response from the shop keepers, from people who passed through the knife arch, and from those who simply to stopped to have a chat and find out more.
"Leaflets provided by The Damilola Taylor Trust were given to those who passed through the arch to explain what the campaign is about and why carrying a knife is dangerous.
"Our aim was to promote safer streets and I hope it offered reassurance to the public that violent crime won’t be tolerated in our area.
Officers will continue to use the arches for random searches for knives and bladed weapons. They will be used in public places, such as at school gates, shopping centres and transport hubs across the Force over the next year as part of Operation Blunt.
Dennis Evernden, Local Police Area commander, said: "The towns and villages in West Oxfordshire have no more of a problem with violent crime than other similar sized towns across the country but that is no reason to be complacent.
"The detectors were used to educate and to act as a deterrent to reinforce the message that if you consider carrying a knife you will be caught.
"People seem to think carrying a knife keeps them safe when in fact it could be used against them. If you carry a knife you are also running the risk of being caught, put before a court and you could get up to four years in prison."
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