New powers to tackle knife crime go live in Merseyside next week (Wednesday 19 April), to further tackle knife crime and violent offending.
Serious Violence Reduction Orders (SVROs) are a new court order to help save lives and reduce serious violence by seeking to change the behaviour of known knife and weapon carriers.
Merseyside Police is one of four forces to trial the introduction of the post-conviction powers, alongside Thames Valley, West Midlands and Sussex.
The court will be able to make an SVRO when an adult (aged 18 or over) is convicted of an offence involving a bladed article or offensive weapon.
These orders will help to tackle prolific, high-risk offenders, by making it easier for police to search them for weapons.
SVROs will also help protect first time offenders from being drawn into further exploitation by criminal gangs, by acting as a deterrent to any further weapons carrying.
The pilot will run for two years before a decision is made on a national rollout.
Whilst SVROs may only be applied for in pilot force areas, officers across England and Wales will have the power to stop and search those with an SVRO.
This will allow the police the flexibility to tackle travelling criminality and ensure that offenders are not able to evade enforcement simply by leaving the pilot force area.
Nationally, recorded knife crime has risen over a period of several years. In Merseyside, January 2023 saw the lowest level of knife crime since April 2020, and the lowest level of overall serious violence since February 2021.
Since 2019, and up to January 2023, Merseyside Police has seized over 10,000 weapons and made over 3,000 arrests for serious violence offences.
Superintendent Phil Mullally, Merseyside’s Lead for Serious Violence and Knife Crime said, “We welcome the opportunity to trial these new powers and keep the pressure on those who are involved in the most serious violent crime and ultimately, keep our communities safe.
“Both serious violence and knife crime are falling in Merseyside, but we know there is still work to do. These new powers will enable us to continue to drive down knife crime and reoffending.
“Merseyside Police is absolutely committed to targeting those who bring misery to our communities and getting knives and offensive weapons off our streets.
“The new powers will enable a more proactive approach for repeat offenders and will help us protect those most vulnerable from being drawn into further exploitation by criminal gangs.”
“This pilot coincides with a range of activity already taking place to tackle knife crime and serious violence on Merseyside, including Operation Target – our force wide operation to tackle serious and violent crime – local policing operations and the work of the Merseyside Violence Reduction Unit.”
Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) Jon Roy said, “Tackling serious violence is a key priority for the force. Serious Violence Reduction Orders (SVROs) will enable the police to proactively search those who we know have previously carried a knife or offensive weapon. With every weapon seized, a potential life is saved.
“We are confident that these new powers will help deter offenders, help change behaviour and provide reassurance to communities that action is being taken.”
Merseyside’s Police and Crime Commissioner Emily Spurrell said:“There is never a valid reason for anyone to arm themselves with a knife and evidence shows that those who pick them up, even in self-defence, are far more likely to be harmed.
“Knife is a national problem. But, like many other areas, we have sadly seen the devastating consequences knife crime can have, so I strongly support the introduction of this new pilot here in Merseyside.
“It’s vital we do everything possible to prevent any more families from suffering the heart-break caused by knife crime and these new SVROs gives Merseyside Police another tool in its arsenal to tackle those who are known to hold and use these lethal weapons.”
Geraldine O’Driscoll, Temporary Director of the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership (MVRP) said, “We stand proudly behind Merseyside Police’s bold Prevention approach, of which SVROs are just one strand. As an organisation committed to educating young people about the danger of knives, a strong message that the carrying of them will not be tolerated, will help the MVRP enormously.
“Repeat offenders can have a toxic influence on our communities and any intervention that can protect young people from becoming engaged in criminal activities including County Lines drug activity is also beneficial. Overall, the message must be that we will simply not accept knife crime – and the undoubted misery it causes.”
Images: Merseyside Police