Sussex Police will pilot a national initiative aimed at tackling knife crime and protecting communities from serious violence.

Sussex is one of four police forces in the country to pilot the use of Serious Violence Reduction Orders (SVRO), which will help police tackle knife crime by giving them additional powers to stop and search adults who have previously been convicted of knife and offensive weapons offences.

The orders, introduced through the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill in Parliament this month, will be issued to adult offenders only, and at the discretion of the court.

An offender issued with a SVRO will face an increased likelihood of being stopped by the police and if they continue to carry weapons, they will be sent back to prison or brought before the court.

Detective Superintendent Stu Hale said: “Knives and other dangerous weapons have no place on our streets. We work tirelessly to remove them and to take action against those found to be carrying them, as part of our ongoing commitment to keeping our communities safe. Key to this is multi-agency working through the Violence Reduction Partnerships, tackling local issues, with a focus on early intervention with children and young people.

“By signing up to be a part of this pilot project, we are looking to build on the extensive work we already do in Sussex to tackle knife crime and serious violence.

“The powers granted within the order will help us identify and manage persistent offenders, which in turn should act as a powerful deterrent to others thinking of continually carrying a knife. If you persist in carrying weapons, you will be caught and dealt with robustly.

“Carrying weapons is extremely dangerous and although some people may carry them to feel safe, it actually puts you at more risk of coming to harm.”

Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “Sussex Police are helping to lead the way in tackling serious violence and knife crime by taking part in this ground-breaking pilot.

“By targeting habitual knife carriers in an intelligence-led and consistent way officers will be sending out a clear message that this dangerous and reckless behaviour will not be tolerated.

“Following weeks of high profile success on our roads by the new Sussex Enforcement Units, the deployment of SVROs is another clear demonstration of Sussex Police cracking down on serious violence to make our streets even safer.”

The use of SVROs will complement the wider activity that Sussex Police is doing under Operation Safety, the force response to tackling knife crime and serious violence, with the primary focus on reducing knife crime committed against young people.

Last year, Sussex Police secured additional funding from The Home Office’s Serious Violence Fund for 2020/21, with the primary focus on reducing knife crime committed in public spaces against young people. Tactics used to prevent knife crime include the use of the Operation Safety van to engage, inform and educate members of the public on the risk of carrying knives, targeted days of action, knife sweeps, increased patrols and a multi-agency awareness campaign to engage with young people on the dangers of carrying knives.

Knife amnesty bins are available in police stations across Sussex, allowing people to safely dispose of knives with no consequences and no questions asked. 

If you are a parent or carer and you are concerned someone you care for is in danger of becoming a victim of knife crime, try to talk with them in the first instance or seek advice from Family Lives on 0808 800 22 22.

If you’re concerned or have information about knife crime, you can report online or via 101. In an emergency always dial 999.