A two-month operation aimed at increasing the safety of young people in Nottingham has been heralded a success after police connected with more than 2,000 young people. As part of Operation Portcullis more than 1,500 pupils have been educated by officers around the risks and consequences of carrying dangerous weapons and imitation weapons. In addition, street-based teams of Safer Neighbourhoods Officers, specialist Youth Offending police, social workers and youth workers have engaged with more than 500 youngsters in hotspot areas at key times, which is evening to night-time. And as part of a significant day of action on Saturday March 20, which involved 200 officers and staff, hundreds more young people were spoken to, stop searched and given advice.
On the night there were 23 arrests for offences including possession of an offensive weapon, possession of a firearm, drugs possession, handling stolen goods, and public disorder offences. Superintendent Helen Chamberlain said: “This multi-agency operation demonstrates Nottinghamshire Police and its partners are committed to tackling the problem of serious youth violence and knife crime in our area. “As part of the Tackling Knives Action Programme we and our partners have made significant strides to ensure fewer young people become involved in this type of crime, which can have a devastating effect on the whole community. “Through our youth issues officers we go into schools and educate children from an early age that carrying a knife is dangerous and committing such crimes has serious consequences. This has had a positive impact on a huge number of people and we’ve had some good feedback. “An on-going high-visibility operation targets the city centre at peak times to ensure the areas used for entertainment, business and transport are safe. “We also ask the public to inform us who is carrying a knife, which will increase our overall intelligence, and we have used Bluetooth messaging to enhance this.”
Operation Portcullis has been supported by the Home Office’s Tackling Knives Action Programme, which is aimed at combating serious violence, regardless of weapon, on people between 13 and 24. As part of Saturday’s initiative, a Home Office search centre, which included a hi-tech body scanner, was set up and 10 suspects were sent through the centre. In addition, licensing officers and staff from the Security Industry Authority visited 56 licensed premises and checked 49 door staff. Only one door staff did not comply with SIA Conditions. And over past couple of months street sweeps have been conducted, which have involved officers and drugs dogs, searching bins and alleyways in Nottingham. As a result, six offensive weapons and 11 dangerous/pointed instruments were recovered. Supt Chamberlain added: “This initiative is not in response to a new or growing problem among young people, however it will help us get to know the different young groups, gather intelligence and improve the future resourcing of policing in Nottingham.” Fifteen other police forces, which are all involved in TKAP, have either run or will be running similar initiatives over the coming months.