A POLICE team set up four years ago to tackle serious violent crime across West Yorkshire has made more than 9,000 arrests, new figures show.

Data also reveals that Operation Jemlock has recovered over 1,700 weapons – including machetes, knives and firearms.

The initiative sees officers patrol priority areas, and carry out enforcement action when required.

It also helps fund projects devoted to preventative work with children and young people.

And the operation works in collaboration with the West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Partnership to address underlying causes of violent offending.

Chief Inspector James Kitchen, of the Operation Jemlock team, says: "The initiative was established to reduce violent crime, and particularly knife crime, in West Yorkshire.

"Due to the officers working on the operation, areas patrolled by Jemlock have witnessed significant reductions in knife crime and serious violence offences, and arrests and weapons seizures are continuing on a weekly basis.

"Every weapon seized makes communities safer by taking those weapons out of the possession of people who choose to cause harm.

"Actual knife crime in West Yorkshire has reduced year-on-year since 2019, however the fear of knife crime continues to be at the forefront of people's concerns – due to a number of tragic incidents and a significant presence on social media and in popular youth culture."

He adds: "There is always a balance to be achieved between over-criminalising young people and ensuring that the public is protected.

"However, regarding the very small minority which continues to choose to carry a weapon, it is Jemlock’s commitment to find those individuals and put them before the courts.

"Carrying a weapon will never be tolerated; it doesn’t ‘protect’, it only puts everyone at greater risk of harm."

Detective Chief Supt Lee Berry, director of the West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Partnership, says: "We work in close collaboration with Operation Jemlock, which has been instrumental in reducing knife-related crimes in West Yorkshire and bringing to justice those who involve themselves in serious violence.

"The Violence Reduction Partnership complements this work. Through better understanding of the root causes of serious violence, the partnership helps co-ordinate and enhance the county’s response, with prevention at the heart of our approach.

"In 2022-23 alone, we have worked with 46 organisations, supporting over 14,000 young people under 25 years to tackle serious violence. Only by working together in this way can we effectively respond and keep our young people safe."