A TOTAL of 679 knives have been surrendered in Avon and Somerset since a police amnesty scheme was set up in October 2016.

Among the weapons handed in have been machetes and zombie knives, which police say are usually only carried by people intending to hurt others.

The knives have been left in temporary surrender bins in a number of locations across the force area.

Permanent bins are now being installed so that communities have a safe place for knives to be handed in, throughout the year.

The constabulary regularly takes part in Operation Sceptre, a national initiative led by the Metropolitan Police, that aims to reduce the number of people carrying knives and educate young people about the dangers of carrying a knife.

Somerset County Gazette:

Sgt Mike Vass, who co-ordinates much of the work on knife crime for Avon and Somerset Police, said: “The permanent bins are a welcome addition and will help support our work to reduce the number of knives on the streets.

Somerset County Gazette:

“Every knife surrendered is one less knife out on the street, where they can and do cause serious harm.

"It’s not just the number of knives surrendered during these operations which is encouraging, but the type.

"There have been some nasty looking machetes and zombie knives left in the bins which are usually only carried by people wanting to hurt others.

“The surrender bins are just one of a number of actions we take to try and reduce the dreadful impact knives can have.

"Our work with young people is on-going, and will be stepped up this week in youth clubs, with local officers delivering hard hitting workshops which really bring home the impact knives can have not just on individuals, but on families and communities.

"We need to understand why young people are carrying knives and work to dispel the myth that knives are somehow cool or essential.

“We also want to let young people know that if they are worried that someone they know is carrying a knife, but are nervous about talking to the police, that they can contact Fearless (The Crimestoppers youth arm) anonymously and potentially help to save a life.”

Knife crime is on the increase, with a 39 per cent increase in possession offences in Avon and Somerset last year compared to 2016, and a 94 per cent increase since 2014.

Nationally, knife crime increased by 21 per cent in 2017.

Permanent surrender bins are now in place in Asda Bedminster; Bristol Bridewell Police Custody Centre; Bristol Patchway Police Custody Centre; South Glos Keynsham Police Custody Centre; Bridgwater Police Custody Centre.