More than 5,000 knives have been taken off the streets in Bristol and the wider region since surrender sites were introduced in 2016 by Avon and Somerset Police. Since Operator Sceptre began eight years ago, a total of 17 surrender sites, including two bins, have been installed across the region, and there are plans to further add to that total this year.

Across 17 locations where these surrender sites and surrender bins have been installed, police say that over the last two years between 1,000 and 1,500 knives have been handed in. The number is also steadily rising, and police say that on average around 150 knives a week are being removed from the city's streets.

Chief Inspector Mike Vass is the knife crime lead at Avon and Somerset Police and he confirmed that two new surrender bins will be installed in the next “few weeks”, in St Pauls and on Stapleton Road. He said this was only the start as the force hoped to install more bins over the coming year, with the locations being decided by community feedback and crime statistics.

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Chief Inspector Mike Vass said: “Knife crime in the last six months especially is causing anxiety in the community so more bins will be made available. We want to make sure that every community has access to the right provisions.

“Since we started in 2016, there have been more than 5,000 knives handed in, the number of knives we see have increased as time has gone on. When we first started the surrender sites, we saw a lot of kitchen knives and antique knives. Now we find there are a lot of deadly knives which have no place in society.

“The community is also engaging with the knife bins which is so positive for the police as well. The surrender sites are reassuring the communities that knives are being taken off the streets, and the engagement from those communities helps the police and when the communities are seeing all of us working together, it provides more reassurance.”

This is what a knife surrender bin looks like, though some are also black in colour.
This is what a knife surrender bin looks like, though some are also black in colour.

Operation Sceptre began with mobile units and opening the police stations for knives to be handed in, which Chief Inspector Vass said could have been “awkward” for those wanting to hand in the weapons. Over the years as more funding for the project became available, more surrender sites were installed across major roads and areas in Bristol.

Last year two surrender bins were installed, one at Castle Park and at The Park Centre in Knowle. With the two additional surrender sites planned later this year, it means there will be 19 sites across the city to dispose of knives. Chief Inspector Vass said he thinks this is a “positive thing” for everyone involved.

He said: “We have an opportunity to stop a life being lost to a knife. That is itself a win. To reassure the community and take dangerous knives off the street, that is also a win.”

Together for Change

Together For Change logo

Earlier this year, Bristol Live launched the Together for Change campaign in a bid to prevent knives taking more lives in the city. Together for Change saw Bristol’s media come together with community leaders, major groups in Bristol and schools to say enough is enough.

Knife crime has had an unprecedented impact in Bristol, not only on those who have sadly lost their lives, but on families, friends and entire communities. Mason Rist, Max Dixon, Darrian Williams, Aliki “Alex” Mamwa, Paul Wagland, Adam Ali Ibrahim, Mikey Roynon, Eddie King Muthemba Kinuthia, Isaac Brown and Martin Hefferman have all lost their lives, but many more have been victims of knife crime.

It has led a Bristol rapper to call for a five-year prison sentence for people caught carrying a knife to tackle what a youth club director has called “ a wildfire spreading around Bristol”.

Together For Change Aims

Set up a task force - We will develop a community-driven task force to meet and discuss the issue, how best to tackle it and how we can make a real difference with those in power.

Getting knives off the street - We will work with the campaigners to raise awareness of initiatives designed to get knives off the streets.

Social media - We will look at the Online Safety Bill and see if it goes far enough where it comes to harmful knife-related content on social media and how easy it is for children to see.

Raise awareness - We will work together to raise the awareness of how knife crime is linked to poverty, education, employment, social exclusion and the collapse in youth services

Lobby the government -We will cover the issue in the context of the General Election, using our findings from the taskforce and our reporting to lobby for change

Hold power to account - We will scrutinise and hold Avon and Somerset Police and Bristol City Council to account on their plans and models to make Bristol safer

The surge of dangerous knives being seen in the surrender bins has led to questions as to why these knives are available for people to buy. Chief Inspector Mike Vass added: “We need to ask ourselves what is unnecessary on the retail market, why does anyone have access to them?”

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