Tackling knife crime is a priority and we are taking firm action, including warning young people about the dangers of carrying knives, working with retailers both online and on the high street, and legislating for tougher sentences. During October, 21 police forces took part in a week of action against knife crime. In Essex, test purchases were conducted, habitual knife carriers were stopped and searched, and 12 individuals were arrested.
I thank the Minister for reminding us of the action that Essex police are already taking. Over a four-month period, the knife amnesty got 311 knives off the streets. Will the Minister commit to continuing a knife amnesty and will she come to Southend to see the complexities and interaction between knife crime and drugs crime in Southend?
I am very grateful to my colleague for raising that point and I will be delighted to visit him in Southend. He will be pleased to know that the Home Office is working with the Essex police and crime commissioner, along with the Institute of Community Safety, to see what more we can do to help the situation in Essex. I understand that they will agree a plan of local action during a meeting this week.
Last week, a memorial service was held in Leicester for Tyler Thompson, who was killed with a knife aged only 16. The hon. Member for Rochford and Southend East (James Duddridge) said that 311 knives had been given in during the amnesty in Essex. Does the Minister have the figures for the whole country?
I do not have the answer to hand at the moment, but this was the first week, with 21 forces engaged in Operation Sceptre. That had a hugely beneficial effect, in terms of not only the surrendering of weapons across the country but arrests across the country. It sent out an incredibly clear, firm message: we will not tolerate people carrying knives as they will use them harmfully on innocent citizens.