THERE are many reasons people across the county carry knives.

But none of them are valid.

“If you carry a knife, then you are increasing the chance of being hurt yourself, or hurting someone else,” said Chief Insp Scott Egerton.

“If you carry a knife, we will be looking for you and we will arrest you.”

Mr Egerton is Essex Police’s lead for Operation Sceptre, the force’s targeted crackdown on knife and other violent crime.

Their work has been backed by significant Home Office funding and has seen more than more than 5,875 extra hours of patrols since June.

Police have three key areas they are targeting with the specialist operation.

“The first is targeting hotpots,” Mr Egerton said.

“We are flooding the areas where we know it is more likely people will carry knives like our town centres.

“We have got officers in those areas doing knife sweeps and using knife arches to keep people safe.

“We have a focus on the night time economy.

“There is also a clear strategy to target those individual people who we know are involved in serious violence.

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“We are looking for out of town drug dealers who bring associated violence into our towns with them.

“There have been dedicated operations in Colchester and Southend where between 60 and 70 people have been arrested.

“We also have innovative ways of working.

“For example, we are liaising closely with the Border Agency.

“We have a process in place where anyone who orders a knife to be shipped into the UK is spoken to because it is an offence.

“Now, sometimes it is a young person who needs education, but on the other hand it may well be a person who is intent on causing harm in our communities.”

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Essex Police is also part of a multi-agency Violence and Vulnerability Unit, which bring together various agencies to share information, tackle crime and safeguard vulnerable victims.

And there are more areas of the police force working on knife crime than you might anticipate.

“The British Transport Police and our roads policing unit are really important to tackling knife crime,” Mr Egerton said.

“They patrol train stations and look at cars on key routes into Essex where we know criminals travel on.

“But stopping knife crime long term cannot be done through purely police activity.

“That is why the unit is so important to try and change the culture.

“Partnership work is so important wit this, be it with other forces, other agencies or different parts of Essex Police.”

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Statistically, only one in every 4,700 people in Essex will ever be injured by a knife.

But in real terms, that figure is even higher.

“Essex is a safe county,” Mr Egerton said.

“The figure sounds good but it is probably even better than that because the people more likely to be hurt by a knife are those involved in drug dealing and those who want to make trouble at night.

“If you’re a law abiding citizen and don’t come into contact with these areas you have even less to fear.”

But police do need your help.

“If you know of anyone carrying a knife call 101 or 999 if it is an emergency,” he added.

“And if you do not want to give your details then Crimestoppers if a really great resource and you can call them and stay anonymous.”

To contact the charity call 0800 55511 or go to crimestoppers-uk.org.