A weapons sweep was carried out at a park in Bolton as part of an operation to tackle knife crime.

Officers from GMP Bolton North neighbourhood team were at Boardman Street Park in Astley Bridge last night as part of Operation Spectre, which was launched this week.

The bi-annual national campaign raises awareness of the devastating impact of knife crime and police forces across the UK take part in a week of action.

A spokesman for GMP Bolton Neighbourhood said: "The operation, which runs for a week, will see officers from across Greater Manchester Police (GMP) engaging in targeting operations, community engagement events, educational events and visits to premises to help reduce knife crime and discourage people from carrying knives.

"Officers from the Bolton North Neighbourhood Team have conducted a weapons sweep of Boardman Street Park in Crompton. Officers searched the park for knives and other weapons which may have been stashed or discarded in the area - making sure our green spaces remain safe for all to enjoy."

The operation was launched as Bolton welcomed the Knife Angel, a 27-foot-tall statue, made from over 100,000 nationally seized blades, weighs over three tonnes .

It will be in Deansgate until the end of the month and is in Bolton as part of a tour around the UK.

Town Hall chiefs say the Knife Angel is about the legacy that it leaves behind and the positive changes it will bring for the future in Bolton and its local communities.

This includes creating better initiatives to turn the tide on aggressive behaviour, the aim is to educate and facilitate more positive actions.

The Operation Venture team – GMP’s dedicated serious violence and knife crime team – will also be supporting the operation with proactive uniformed and plain clothes patrols in districts across Greater Manchester.

Deployments by the Operation Venture team are designed to prevent serious violence by seeking to identify and arrest anyone caught carrying a knife.

The Operation Sceptre week of action will also highlight the selling of knives (including in the online space) and officers will be working with partners to engage retailers and highlight the ways in which they can be more vigilant to ensure knives are sold responsibly.

GMP will also be spreading awareness of the Forever Amnesty surrender bins, which are permanently located in police stations across Greater Manchester, all year round. Anyone can surrender a knife anonymously in these bins with no questions asked.

Superintendent Caroline Hemingway, GMP’s force lead for knife crime, said: “Knife crime has a devastating impact on families and communities. Weeks of action like Operation Sceptre are an opportunity to show the work GMP is engaged in all year round to tackle the issues and protect communities.

“Ultimately, we want to prevent serious violence from ever occurring and community engagement events and education form a big part of this strategy.

"Our School Engagement Officers regularly visit schools and deliver important lessons to children and young people about the dangers of knife crime.

"We also work closely with a range of partners to raise awareness of the consequences of carrying knives and make referrals into support services with the aim of discouraging people from carrying knives.

“Many young people report that they feel safer carrying knives, but what they don’t realise is that this actually puts themselves and others at more risk of harm.

“I also want to be clear that carrying a knife in a public place is a serious offence. GMP takes a zero tolerance approach and anyone caught with a knife will be arrested and could spend years in prison.

“If you suspect someone is carrying a knife, I would urge you to have those difficult conversations before it is too late and if they persist you must report it to the police. Too many lives have been ruined as a result of knife crime and we need communities to come together and work with us. You can help stop someone you love from becoming a victim of knife crime.”

A powerful stance against violence will be made tomorrow as the iconic Knife Angel arrives in Bolton town centre.