On the ground as anti-knife crime patrols target hotspots

Sgt Matt Paine, dog handler PC Frances Peters with Lottie and Inspector Ian Cox

Sgt Matt Paine, dog handler PC Frances Peters with Lottie and Inspector Ian Cox undertaking anti-knife crime patrol in Thorpe Marriott as part of Operation Sceptre. - Credit: Neil Perry

Extra patrols and searches are being undertaken at dozens of areas across Norfolk identified as potential knife crime hotspots.

Norfolk Police will be one of 44 forces nationally involved in Operation Sceptre, a week of action taking place to highlight the risks that carrying a blade can bring, as well as targeting offenders who use and carry knives.

Local neighbourhood policing teams, alongside drugs officers and specialist dog handlers, are conducting patrols and sweeping the street on the lookout for knives.

Police dog Lottie who was used during a sweep for knives in Thorpe Marriott.

Police dog Lottie who was used during a sweep for knives in Thorpe Marriott. - Credit: Neil Perry

One patrol took place at Thorpe Marriott skatepark, a popular local hang-out next to Marriott’s Way, where officers were joined by dog handler PC Frances Peters with Lottie, who was used to search the surrounding area. 

Sgt Matt Paine said: “This area is a hub in the area for young people to come down and it is worthy of interest for us.

“The local team patrol here as part of their anti-social behaviour work during the evening and they will be heightening that during the course of this week.”

Sgt Matt Paine, dog handler PC Frances Peters with Lottie and Inspector Ian Cox

Sgt Matt Paine, dog handler PC Frances Peters with Lottie and Inspector Ian Cox undertaking anti-knife crime patrol in Thorpe Marriott as part of Operation Sceptre. - Credit: Neil Perry

Lottie was used to search surrounding bushes and woods with it being a known tactic for criminals to leave weapons hidden in specific places. 

Inspector Ian Cox said: “This is one of a whole number of areas across the county where we have done our research and identified a higher level of anti-social behaviour meriting additional patrols whether that be to offer reassurance or to use the dogs to see if there are any discarded knives.

Police vehicles

Extra patrols are being carried out at dozens of areas identifed as possible knife crime hotspots. - Credit: Neil Perry

“It is not that we are saying this or other areas are necessarily massive knife hotspots, that isn’t the case, but it is an area of heightened antisocial behaviour and doing patrols and sweeps helps us build up a picture and offers reassurance. 

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“And this is getting replicated dozens and dozens of times with similar patrols throughout Operation Sceptre week.” 

Dog handler PC Frances Peters with Lottie search shelter

Dog handler PC Frances Peters with Lottie search shelter found in woodland at Thorpe Marriott as part of Operation Sceptre. - Credit: Neil Perry

The operation is also an opportunity to gather intelligence and a passing local dog walker, who says he organises litter picking, helped to identify a makeshift shelter in nearby woods where a bag that may have been used for drugs was sniffed out. 

“This is what it is all about," said Inspector Cox. "It's just the sort of place where you might find an old discarded knife that youngsters might pick up and then might later get into an argument where it all goes wrong."