Police sweep Ipswich town centre for knives for Operation Sceptre
- Credit: OLIVER SULLIVAN
A team of specialist officers from Suffolk Constabulary searched various areas of the town for weapons on Thursday, March 14 as part of a nationwide operation.
Operation Sceptre saw a team of six specially trained officers from Suffolk Constabulary carry out weapon sweeps across Christchurch Park, St Mary-Le-Tower church and Alexandra Park.
Operation Sceptre is a nationwide scheme to reduce knife crime and was launched on Monday, March 11.
The operation took place on Thursday March 14 under Sgt Matt Thomas, the search advisor.
He co-ordinated the areas for his team to search as a result of police intelligence, tip-offs from Ipswich Borough Council and the general public, as well as by eye.
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“We look for places of interest,” Sgt Thomas explained as he pointed towards a tree.
“That tree stands out and has prominent features, it’s close to a park bench, too.
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“Criminals could use it as a place to store their weapons for later use, for a variety of reasons.”
While searching near the arboretum, officers located a stash of three screwdrivers and a pair of scissors hidden inside a bush.
“On their own, they’re not illegal,” Sgt Thomas said.
“But these could be used for a number of crimes - there will be a reason why these have been hidden together, so it’s definitely a successful find.”
Officers conducting a search in the area on Tuesday also found a knife near the cenotaph in the south of the park, which is being investigated by specialists at police headquarters.
Explaining why criminals choose to hide their weapons, Sgt Thomas said: “Criminals know what will happen to them if we stop them and they’re in possession of a bladed weapon.
“They come to places like parks to hide them so that they can come back and get them at a later date.”
Offences involving bladed weapons have increased by 25% in Suffolk in the last five years and is seen as a major problem.
Speaking before the campaign’s launch, Suffolk police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore said: “Knife crime is a growing problem here in Suffolk and it’s got to stop.
“Carrying a knife just doesn’t make you safe and sadly, as we all know, it can lead to dreadful consequences.”
A spokesman for the council confirmed they are working with the police as part of the operation.