A SPECIALIST police unit dedicated to tackling violent crime in Keighley and across the region has achieved a milestone.

Officers from West Yorkshire Police Operation Jemlock have now made more than 8,000 arrests since the initiative was launched in 2019.

The landmark figure was reached when the team swooped on wanted violent offenders and robbery suspects last month.

Since operations began, the unit has also seized over 1,600 weapons, including machetes, knives and firearms.

In addition to enforcement, officers also stage high-visibility patrols in 'priority areas' to provide reassurance to communities.

And team members work with the West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit, which was formed in 2020, to tackle underlying causes of violent offending.

Preventative projects take place with children and young people.

Chief Inspector James Kitchen, the force lead for Operation Jemlock, says: "Passing the 8,000 arrests threshold is a real milestone for the team, and shows how much impact it has had in the years since its formation.

"Officers deployed on Jemlock deal with some of the most violent individuals within our communities, putting themselves at significant risk to protect the public, and they continue to do this day in, day out.

"Operation Jemlock was created to reduce violent crime, and data tells us that crime in an area selected for a Jemlock patrol reduces by up to 11 per cent when our officers are deployed there. These areas have witnessed significant reductions in knife crime and serious violent offences. That’s hundreds less victims of violent crime each year.

"It is a small minority which chooses to use violence, and it is Jemlock’s continuing commitment to demonstrate that violent crime will never be tolerated."

The partnership work is welcomed by Chief Superintendent Jackie Marsh, director of the West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit, who says preventative measures are proving effective.

She adds: "Our preventive approach of early intervention is having a significant impact on young people’s lives.

"Through the many funded projects and programmes, we are reaching them at the ‘teachable moments’ and helping to divert them from the harms of violent crime.

"This partnership work, coupled with the enforcement action of Operation Jemlock, is ensuring that together we are keeping our communities safe, resulting in fewer victims."

The Violence Reduction Unit brings together a number of organisations to tackle causes of crime, and funds projects.

Last year it received £5.8 million from the Government to continue its work.