Targeted stop and searches helping take knives off the streets
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Intelligence-led stop and searches have been critical to the success of a specialist team of officers tasked with rooting out knife crime.
That’s the view of Sergeant Matt Daley whose city knife crime team has carried out more than 700 stop and searches in the last year alone.
The team of seven work together as one while carrying out patrols across Nottingham – all in a bid to close in on and stop potential knife carriers.
Splitting up between four squad cars, the officers scour the area for targets intelligence suggests could be involved in drug activity or weapon-enabled violence.
While continuing to run live checks using computers inside the cars, the team work together to carry out stop and searches on people that recent intelligence highlights as a potential knife carrier.
All the stops conducted by the force are intelligence-led, with officers required to follow strict guidelines – remaining calm and professional throughout and clearly explaining their grounds and rationale for carrying out the stop and search.
During every stop, officers are also required to switch on their body-worn video, so that it can recorded for transparency, with the footage open to independent community scrutiny at a later date, should that be required.
Allowing this external scrutiny to what can be seen as a contentious practice is extremely important, so that people are kept fully aware of exactly why a stop and search is taking place, while getting this feedback from the public can also enhance this engagement with the community.
The stop and search tactic has proven itself to be incredibly effective for the city knife crime team and allowed them to make more than 130 weapon seizures on their patrols over the last 12 months.
“Whether we’re out in vehicles or on foot, our patrols allow us to be out there and be the eyes and ears on the street,” said Sgt Daley.
“We target people that recent intelligence and our policing roadcraft skills would suggest could be in possession of knives or drugs.
“We’ve carried out more than 700 stop and searches in the last year and we have a high success rate – they play a big part in what we do.
“I think these tactics are invaluable to policing and have yielded us brilliant results, so I’m a true believer this helps keep people safe.”
Reported knife crime offences in Nottinghamshire have dropped by 2%, when comparing the period between April 2022 and March 2023 with the previous financial year.
Engaging with communities and educating people about the dangers of carrying a knife, so that they don’t pick one up in the first place are also key elements of the force’s year-round approach to tackling knife crime.
As part of this preventative work, Nottinghamshire Police and its partners work within the community to spread this important message, while specially trained officers carry out regular school visits to educate young people.
This ongoing work takes place alongside that of the knife crime team, who clock up tens of thousands of miles a year in their vehicles, with their patrols leading to more than 150 arrests for various offences since April 2022.
In addition to the weapon seizures made during that time, the city knife crime team have also made in excess of 200 drug seizures, using these methods.
Nottinghamshire Police is one of only a handful of forces nationwide to have two dedicated knife crime teams – with the county team also seizing more than 70 knives in the last year.
Taking more than 300 weapons off the streets between them – the teams have played a part in helping reduce knife crime in Nottinghamshire.
The city team has now been in operation for more than six years, with Sgt Daley expressing his pride at the impact his team continues to have in stopping weapon-enabled crime.
He added: “Our primary focus as a knife crime team is all geared around keeping people safe, keeping our communities safe and reducing that risk of harm from weapon-enabled crime.
“We do that with our proactive approach to policing – both plain clothed and uniformed – because we don’t want to see harm in the communities that we police.
“We provide a year-round, 365 days-a-year service, and we believe that’s what the public want from us.”
Nottinghamshire Police is shining a light on the work being done to crackdown on knife crime throughout this week, as part of national campaign Operation Sceptre.