Tuesday, January 26News For London

The knife crime epidemic: Are we still in the long run to stop it?

According to the BBC reports, in 2018, the knife crime rate in England and Wales reached the highest rate since World War II. Knife crime has become more common in big cities, especially in London.

There were 153 malicious murders in the London area by the end of 2018. This is the highest number within a decade, according to the official figures of the Metro Police. Nevertheless, “the plague continued at the beginning of 2019“, as on the 27 March, six more stabbings were reported in London in one night. 

Zhenyi Lu©️

The number of knife crimes in London rose from 9,691 in 2014/15 to 14,769 in 2017/18, an increase of 52.4%. As for England and Wales, according to the latest record in 2017/18, the number of violent crimes recorded reached a peak of 252,200. Between 2017 and 2018, there was a knife crime rate of 168 knife crime per 100,000 in the general population. 

Zhenyi Lu©️

Who are the victims?

A total of 285 people were killed by knives or a sharp instrument in the 12 months before March 2018, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Among the 285 victims, a quarter (71) were males aged between 18 to 24 years.

The ONS data also showed that 25% of the victims were black, the highest percentage since the data was first collected in 1997. The figures also show a 45% increase in the number of victims aged 16 to 24 years and a 23% increase in the number of victims aged 25 to 34. Among the male victims, 35% were killed by strangers, compared to only 17% of female victims.

According to NHS statistics in 2019, the number of people in the UK admitted to hospital due to a knife wound is at its highest level in five years. Figures from the NHS in February showed a rise of almost 60% in the number of teenagers admitted to hospital after being attacked by a sharp object. More than 1,000 young people under 18 years of age were hurt by knife or sharp object attacks.

The number of people injured in attacks with knives or other sharp objects increased by nearly a third from 3,849 to 4,986 last year. However, the number of children aged 10 to 19 years admitted to hospital has doubled, from 656 in 2012/13 to 1,012 last year, an increase of about 55%.

The boroughs at the highest risk 

In terms of the offences counted by the authority, the graphic above shows that the boroughs in the northeast such as Southwark, Newham and Haringey have the highest rates of knife crime, while the west London areas such as Harrow and Merton have the lowest rate.

What causes trouble? 

The lack of police force:

According to the authority, over the past seven years, government budgets for the police force have been cut by about 20%. This has resulted in a drop of nearly 20,000 officers across the country. The home secretary, Sajid Javid, himself admitted that increasing the number of police officers was an ‘important part’ of tackling the rising crime.

As the police force has shrunk, so has the activity associated with its remit: the number of arrests in England and Wales has halved in the past decade. Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said that tackling the issue of violence in London was her “top priority”. In February, she also referred that there was ‘a certain link’ between the drop in police numbers and the rise in the violent crime.

Source: the Spectator

The insufficiency of public services:

Homelessness is on the rise. The Home Office said that the victims or suspects of murders known to have used or traded drugs have risen from 50% to 75% in the past two years.

The youth violence culture:

Most victims of stabbing are black males aged between 18 to 24 year, while 21% perpetrators are under 18, as the Guardian and the BBC have reported. Issues of poverty and unemployment stimulate young men to engage in violent crime. Especially when a gang culture prevails and their male role models are gang elders, these boys can hardly escape from the culture.

Source: ONS

The loose control of knives:

Knife imports are on the rise. Doctors warn that the sales of knives on the streets are fuelling the rise in stabbings. They call on the retailers to do more to curb the proliferation of weapons. The supermarket Asda has announced ‘it will remove single kitchen knives from sale amid a knife crime epidemic’ by the end of April.

Source: PA

Source: Statista 2019

What does the future hold?

Stop and search:

Starting from 31 March, police in England and Wales have been given greater powers to stop and search. But protesters said the move was ‘disappointing and regressive’ and has no practical effect. There is evidence shown that it has largely targeted black people. The reform is being piloted in seven regions in England and Wales where the knife crime rate is more than 60%.

Source: Police powers and procedures England and Wales statistics (2017/18)

More funds from the government:

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said in January that he would invest £1.4 million in the future to continue to serve young workers in Major Trauma Centres (MTCs) and in hospital emergency rooms to guide the young involved in the knife crime to steer away from violence. The support from the government continues in February with Sadiq’s new Young Londoners Fund of £45 million to help young Londoners who are at risk of committing crimes, with £15 million invested in each of the next three years. The investment will begin in April this year.