Bristol police launch operation to tackle serious youth violence and knife crime

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The operation will see activity take place across the policing area but with specific focuses on hotspots

Police in Bristol have launched a new proactive operation dedicated to tackling and disrupting serious violence and knife crime involving young people.

The operation will see activity take place across the policing area but with specific focuses on hotspots.

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It will begin in Bristol, following the tragic deaths of 19-year-old Eddie Kinuthia in St Paul’s in June, 16-year-old Max Dixon and 15-year-old Mason Rist in Knowle West last month, and of a 16-year-old boy in St Philips last night (14 February).

It also comes after a 16-year-old boy was critically wounded in a stabbing at a Bristol city centre McDonald’s on Thursday 8 February and other incidents in which children and young people have been injured, including a 14-year-old boy in St Werburgh’s on Sunday 4 February and a 20-year-old man in Easton yesterday (February 14).

As part of this immediate response, officers have also been temporarily granted enhanced stop and search powers under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act from 5pm today (Thursday 15 February) for an initial 24 hours. It will then be reviewed and can be extended for a further 24 hours if necessary.

This means officers in uniform can stop and search anyone in a designated area – in this case Bristol city centre, St Pauls, Easton, Temple and Fishponds – without needing reasonable grounds for suspicion because of the recent serious violence.   

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Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Peter Warren said: “Children and young people are being seriously injured and killed on the streets of Bristol and this needs to stop.

“We are extremely concerned about the frequency of serious violence incidents involving young people in the city, many of which involve knives.

“Knife crime is a national problem and not something policing can solve on its own but we recognise there is an ongoing issue in our city which we need to put significant resources into to address.

“The new operation will involve officers and specialist police staff from across the force, including unformed officers, detectives, and intelligence analysts.

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“Their remit will be to identify those most at risk of carrying knives and becoming involved in serious violence and using their powers to disrupt them and prevent them from causing anyone else serious harm.

“They will also look to identify those who may potentially be vulnerable and at risk of becoming victims and ensuring they are appropriately safeguarding.

“The two people who carried out the attack in St Philips last night wore masks and by authorising the use of enhanced stop and search powers we are empowering officers to ask people who are within designated areas of the city to remove their masks, without having to have reasonable grounds for suspicion they may be involved in criminality.

“We do not use this power often and we certainly don’t make the decision to use it lightly. We understand people may have concerns about the use of these powers which is why we consulted with the city’s mayor and other community leaders before making the decision to authorise their use.”

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T/ACC Warren added: “Officers across the city will continue to respond to any incidents of serious violence which occur while we, together with our partners, work to prevent incidents from happening in the first place.

“This new operation’s focus will be on tackling immediate problems such as those we’re sadly seeing in Bristol, but it is not a long term solution.

“Working together with our colleagues in the Violence Reduction Partnership, including local authorities, education, health and social care, we are committed to understanding and addressing the root causes of serious violence, diverting young people away from becoming involved in criminality and educating them on the dangers of knife crime in particular.”

Alongside this acute response to recent incidents, officers continue to carry out a range of operations to tackle youth serious violence and knife crime.

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Operation Sceptre, a national police week of action to target knife crime, runs twice a year and sees officers focus activities on prevention, disruption, and education around knife crime.

Officers carry out targeted searches in areas such as parks and open spaces, where intelligence suggests weapons may be stored or hidden, as well as carrying out extra patrols in areas popular with young people, targeting those who are known to be habitual knife carriers.

Together with the Violence Reduction Partnership, police deliver sessions in local schools, colleges and youth groups to explain the dangers of carrying a knife and educate people in first aid and what to do if someone is stabbed.

Last year, police also launched a partnership with NHS South West and HeartSafe to install a number of bleed control kits across the whole of Avon and Somerset, with 200 expected to be in place by April 2024. These kits are designed to be used in an emergency, in the time between an incident and emergency services arriving on scene. They are not designed to be used instead of calling 999.

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There are also weapon surrender bins installed across the local policing area, in which people can safely and anonymously discard of knives or weapons they are carrying.

T/ACC Warren added: “We urge anyone who carries a knife to think twice. It takes a second for a life to be lost and you are more at risk of this being yourself, rather than others, if you are carrying a knife.

“We also encourage parents and guardians to be having these conversations with your children, to be searching their rooms and bags, and to be vigilant if you think they may be at risk of being involved with any form of serious violence or knife crime.

“We need to work together to get these weapons off the streets and to prevent further tragic loss of young lives.”

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If you are concerned or worried that someone you know may be involved or at risk of serious violence, involving knife crime, please report it via 101, online (https://www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/report/weapons-knives/)  or by calling the independent charity Crimestoppers 100 per cent anonymously on 0800 555 111.

If you have information about last night’s fatal stabbing in the St Philips area of Bristol please either call 101 quoting reference 5224039827 or online via the Major Incident Public Portal –  https://mipp.police.uk/operation/5224C46-PO1.

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