THE fight against knife crime is intensifying after a spate of fatal stabbings in Bradford and surrounding areas.

This week, West Yorkshire Police is carrying out Operation Sceptre - a national initiative aimed at tackling knife crime.

Special patrols, knife sweeps, test purchase operations and a raft of other policing work are taking place as part of the campaign.

Virtual reality training will also be held to educate young people about the devastating consequences of carrying a blade. 

The operation comes just weeks after 27-year-old Kulsuma Akter was stabbed to death in Bradford city centre.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: A vigil to remember Kulsuma Akter was held in Bradford at the end of last monthA vigil to remember Kulsuma Akter was held in Bradford at the end of last month (Image: Newsquest)

Ms Akter was pushing her baby son in a pram along Westgate when she was fatally attacked on the afternoon of April 6.

Habibur Masum, 25, of Leamington Avenue, Burnley, has been charged with murdering Ms Akter.

Masum is due to go on trial on December 2.

Earlier this year, the Telegraph & Argus reported on research which showed at least 17 fatal stabbings happened in West Yorkshire in 2023.

The youngest to die was 15-year-old Alfie Lewis, who was attacked in Horsforth shortly before 3pm on November 7 last year.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Tributes were paid to Alfie Lewis after his deathTributes were paid to Alfie Lewis after his death (Image: Telegraph & Argus)

Alfie was stabbed twice, with a chest wound penetrating his heart and causing catastrophic bleeding. 

He was pronounced dead at hospital a short time later.

Earlier this month, a 15-year-old boy, who was 14 at the time of the crime, was found guilty of murdering Alfie

The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is due to be sentenced on June 21.

Meanwhile, a man who stabbed two people to death outside a nightclub is due to be sentenced on June 3.

Rashane Douglas, of Jade Place, Huddersfield, was found guilty at Bradford Crown Court in March of the murder of Joshua Clark, 21, from Wakefield, who had links to Bradford, and Haidar Shah, 19.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Joshua Clark and Haidar ShahJoshua Clark and Haidar Shah (Image: West Yorkshire Police)

The 19-year-old stabbed the two men to death in a jealous rage with an eight-inch locking knife outside Maggie's nightclub in Commercial Street, Halifax, in the early hours of October 1 last year. 

Chief Inspector James Kitchen is from West Yorkshire Police's Operation Jemlock, which has been dedicated to reducing violent crime since 2019.

Speaking to the T&A at an Operation Sceptre event in Halifax today, he said knife crime left communities "completely devastated".

"There have been many tragic stories lately, as you've reported," he said. 

"We know residents are very concerned about knife offending and we remain committed to the significant work we are conducting to reduce it.

"Our operations run every day of the week to take offenders and weapons off the streets, as does the huge investment in knife crime awareness work in communities, and young people within them, in particular.  

"The Sceptre weeks of action are a really important part of our ongoing work with partners to keep driving knife crime down.

"Residents will see a number of operations taking place in their communities by Operation Jemlock and neighbourhood policing team officers including evidence-led patrols, knife sweeps, test purchase operations and a range of enforcement work.

"Officers will also be attending at a number of schools to engage with young people about the risks to themselves and others if they carry knives."

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Chief Inspector James Kitchen, of West Yorkshire PoliceChief Inspector James Kitchen, of West Yorkshire Police (Image: Newsquest)

Chf Insp Kitchen added that virtual reality was being used to help educate young people about knife crime.

He said: "The virtual reality plays out an experience of being pressured into carrying a weapon. 

"It helps to measure people's decision-making and life choices. 

"It helps to teach people to make the right decisions and choices. 

"There's potential to use more virtual reality in the future."

Police have also been using technology to send anti-knife crime messages straight to young people's phones, he added.

Chf Insp Kitchen urged people not to carry knives.

"If nobody carries a knife, then everybody is safe," he said.

"If you do, you're more at risk - and you could be arrested and jailed."

Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin, said she was "concerned, troubled and heartbroken" by knife crime.

"Please don't carry a knife," she added. 

"Every life lost to violent crime is a tragedy which is why we are determined to tackle this as a matter of urgency.

"We will work to prevent the heartache of families losing loved ones to violent crime."