Knife Crime

Tories cheered when a reduction in Police budget was announced. Conservatives were going to cut funding, and the Police were going to keep their coverage and levels of activities by better utilisation of their resources. Even when the Police warned that crime would go up with the proposed cuts, the budgets were reduced. The consequence has been an increase in crime. Eventually, the Tories will have an epiphany that if they provide more funding to the Police, they will have more resources to fight crime. They never learn.

Knife crime went down from 2011 to 2015. But in 2017 alone it went up by 22% from 2016, and this was across the country, the 22% equates to just under 40,000 offences. There are many suggestions as to why there has been an increase in knife crime. Government critics have sited reduction in stop and search, closing down of children centres and cuts in the number of Police officers. In England and Wales, there are 21,000 fewer police officers now than there were in 2010 and in that same period council spending on Youth services has fallen by more than £750 million.

Others suggestions relate to drug and gang wars being the reason why youngsters carry knife. Social media is another reason given because these youngsters can have a massive following on platforms like Facebook and with significant followers backing down is not seen as an option.

Mike Jervis, chief executive of the Damilola Taylor Trust, highlights removing the fear that results in youngsters to carry a knife. The Trust provides activities for local youngsters and encourages them to pursue successful careers.

Other than the antics of President Trump when he made his speech to the NRA (who seems to think that knife crime is completely out of control in London), the US gang-related crime is much higher than in the UK and we would do well to see how they have tackled violent crime. In Chicago, the city experienced a considerable reduction in stabbings. The scheme was called CeaseFire, and although it focused on gun crime, it worked for all violent disputes.

The approach has two stages:  the first is to identify people who are encouraging the violence. By managing these individuals, the message to spread violence can be minimised. The second and longer-term step is trying to change the behaviour of whole groups (mainly youth gangs) so that they recognise stabbings are unacceptable.

In Chicago, they set up operation centres to control the message on the street about violence. This was done mainly by former gang members who had status and knowledge of street gangs. The programme also used people to go to hospitals following a stabbing to stop a victim’s friends or family retaliating. The programme was successful as it was found to reduce violence, shooting, in its first year by 67 per cent.

The Police have made much of stop and search to help control knife crime. Stop and search may well assist in identifying weapons and act as a deterrent it has been divisive against specific ethnic communities, it is workforce intensive, creates unnecessary conflict and impinges on our liberty.

I believe that we need to spend more on Youth centres, identify within the community potential culprits and work with them as they did in Chicago. Schools also have a role to play by engaging in prevention early on by focusing on social skills and anger management lessons from a young age.




* Cllr. Tahir Maher is a member of the LDV editorial team

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  • “Tories cheered when a reduction in Police budget was announced.”

    Got a source for this? Most that I know think the police budget needs boosting.

  • Privatisation of the police is necessary in order to modernise an increasingly bureaucratic and irrelevant organisation.

  • Michael Bukola 29th Jun '18 - 10:06am

    A view from the ‘coldface’ is that the prevailing issue surrounding gun and knife crime and serious youth violence more generally in the UK is the urgent need for drugs reform. We have to neutralize the gangs by taking away the economies which fuel them. If there are no drugs to protect, then there will be no need to carry the weapons to protect their supply chain. Knife crime is a consequence of a larger problem and should not be seen in isolation. In Camberwell and Peckham where I am the PPC, young people are being press ganged into becoming drug dealers from the age of 8 or 9. We need to regulate and control the cannabis market and take it out of the hands of dealers who are making money from it.

  • Tahir Maher Tahir Maher 1st Jul '18 - 11:43am

    @Michael thank you for your comments.
    @Stimpson – dare I say it, are you being a little mischievous

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