Sussex Police have seized 14 weapons, made 24 arrests, and conducted 70 stop searches across the county over the last three weeks, as part of an operation dedicated to tackling knife crime and serious violence in the summer months.

Operation Valley takes place between 2pm and 10pm each Thursday, Friday and Saturday, in areas identified as knife crime hotspots.

These areas change each week depending on intelligence, recent incidents, developments in investigations, and the analytical input of the Operation Safety team who oversee Operation Valley. Operation Safety is the force’s dedicated response to knife crime and serious violence.

Both uniformed and plain-clothed officers have been conducting patrols all over Sussex, executing warrants, and deploying the use of knife arches and wands.

Today in Brighton, (Friday 11 August), officers are carrying out a knife arch operation in an identified hotspot area to target and disrupt the activity of individuals carrying knives and bladed articles in public places.

A knife arch scans people as they walk through it and detects any weapons being carried. While we can ask individuals to walk through a knife arch, it is not compulsory. We can use existing powers to stop and search people for weapons where we have reasonable grounds to do so.

The knife arch has been placed at the underpass at the bottom of Kings Road.

This area covers the main night-time economy district of Brighton, with multiple bars, night clubs and other licensed premises within the hotspot and on its periphery. The night-time economy is one of the key drivers for crime and disorder, with its associated risks of intoxication and substance abuse.

During the 12-month period of April 2021 to March 2022, this hotspot recorded 52 offences of serious violence with most of these offences linked to licensed premises.

The knife arch tactic is just one of the several problem-solving initiatives being used to reduce harm in this area. Sussex Police work with the council on a regular basis to improve the surrounding conditions by installing better lighting and upgrading the CCTV cameras, and hosting events with the Op Safety engagement van.

Brighton Divisional Commander, Temporary Chief Superintendent Rachel Carr, said: “We are acutely aware of the devastating, lasting impact that knife crime has on our communities and are committed to reducing the harm on our streets.

“Sussex Police continues to carry out operational activity to catch criminals and protect the vulnerable, but we also actively engage with young people and offenders to divert from criminality.

“Remember, a knife will not keep you safe but cause you more harm and consequences. Carrying a knife will change your life.”

Now halfway through the operation, police have also seized a large amount of Class A and B drugs, plus more than £9,000 cash, and carried out 15 vehicle stops.

Here are some of the results from each division:

Brighton and Hove

Five arrests have been made by officers over the last three weeks, with one as a result of the use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras.

A vehicle with a weapons warning marker was captured by an ANPR camera in Brighton. Upon stopping the vehicle, officers discovered in excess of 25 bags of Class A drugs, a similar amount of cannabis/Class B drugs and £1,000 cash.

The suspect was charged with possession with intent (to deliver) and remanded. He was also found to have breached his licence and was returned to prison.

West Sussex

In one weekend, officers conducted 25 stop searches across West Sussex, with 13 resulting in the seizure of drugs and bladed articles.

A high-visibility knife arch operation was carried out at Manuka Bar in Worthing following a number of incidents involving weapons at the venue. Walking through the knife arch was a condition of entry and although no weapons were recovered, Class B drugs were seized and dealt with via community resolution.

Officers engaged with over 450 members of the public, providing reassurance and advice on knife crime and serious violence.

East Sussex

Across East Sussex, officers made a total of five arrests for possession of offensive weapons, including a Japanese sword and a lock knife.

Over each weekend, the Op Valley team have been out and about in neighbourhoods and areas with crime hotspots engaging with residents. Officers have spoken with over 100 young people in Eastbourne in places such as the town centre, Gildredge Park, Hampden Park, and the train station, giving advice on the law surrounding carrying knives and signposting to local activities.

During August, young people aged 11+ can join free football sessions with the Brighton & Hove Albion Foundation (formerly known as Albion in the Community) at the Eastbourne Sports Park. From midday every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, children and teenagers can turn up to engage in the activity partly funded by Operation Safety.

Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “Knife crime causes terrible injuries and fatalities. The truth is, if someone carries a knife, the likelihood is they’ll use it.

“Operation Valley highlights the good work Sussex Police are doing to tackle knife crime. Through a variety of innovative methods, including using technology to seize weapons, officers are catching more criminals and protecting those who are most vulnerable.”