CPS Mersey-Cheshire success in joint police knife-crime pilot
A targeted stop and search pilot in Merseyside is helping to cut knife crime offending across the region.
Merseyside Police, working in conjunction with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has secured 44 Serious Violence Reduction Orders (SVROs) since the launch in April 2023.
The court can make a SVRO when an adult (aged 18 or over) is convicted of an offence involving a bladed article or offensive weapon.
The force and CPS Mersey-Cheshire were the first in the country to issue an order in June 2023, to a woman who pleaded guilty to possessing an offensive weapon in a public place.
Since then, Merseyside Police has continued to use these additional powers to tackle high-risk offenders, known weapons carriers and help drive down reoffending to keep communities safe:
- 44 Serious Violence Reduction Orders have been secured.
- 27 people issued a SVRO are currently serving, or have served, custodial sentences for knife crime offences totalling more than 23 years.
- Six arrests have been made for breaches of a SVRO.
- SVROs form part of Merseyside’s dedicated operation to tackling serious violence and knife crime all year round, Operation Target. Alongside open land searches, search warrants and stop searches, the force works closely with partners to prevent serious violence in communities.
This robust, long-term approach has seen knife crime reduce by 11% and serious violent crime reduce by 9% this financial year (April 2023 to September 2023), along with further reductions in the previous year.
Merseyside Police is one of four forces trialling the introduction of the post-conviction powers, alongside Thames Valley, West Midlands, and Sussex. The SVRO pilot is running for two years before a decision is made on a national roll out.
District Crown Prosecutor Mandy Nepal, the lead on SVROs in CPS Mersey-Cheshire, said: “Knife crime ruins lives, and it is not just habitual offenders who end up being caught in these fatally violent situations. If a knife is removed from a heated exchange because people are more reluctant to carry them due to a protective order, then the community is a safer place.
"Joint working with Merseyside Police has been key to the pilot running smoothly. I contributed to regular stakeholder meetings to ensure that we were all ready for the pilot – these were extremely valuable and facilitated strong collaborative working.
"We've continued to work closely together to ensure the new measures are being implemented appropriately – a real shared understanding has been built which has made both prosecutors and officers feel confident with the process."
Superintendent Phil Mullally, Merseyside’s Lead for Serious Violence and Knife Crime said: “We remain committed to targeting those who choose to carry weapons on our streets and bring them to justice. The launch of SVROs in April has given us another tool to target high-risk offenders who have been convicted of an offence involving a bladed article or knife.
“Six months in, SVROs are being used to keep the pressure on those who persist in unlawfully carrying knives in Merseyside and prevent further violence. Officers are proactively monitoring individuals with live SVROs and undertaking stop searches when they are in a public place. Early evidence suggests that the orders are acting as a deterrent to carrying a knife, given that we have the automatic right to search them when in a public place.
“While we have seen knife crime and serious violence decrease, we are not complacent and know that one incident is one too many. My message to anyone carrying a knife is simple. Don’t do it. If you do, you will be arrested, charged, and remanded to court, where we will apply for a SVRO against you.”