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 roll out.
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.”