Knife crime is now at its highest ever recorded, you’ve probably heard it on the news a lot but why this sudden spark in publicity? Up until last year, knife crime had been decreasing. However, since March 2014, there has been an 80% increase in knife crime offences: in the 12 months until March 2019, 43,516 have taken place in England and Wales.
What crimes have knives actually been used for? Roughly 90% of all attacks were assault and robbery. Last year, 285 homicides were committed using a knife in England and Wales, the highest (170) being in London, which is 57% of the overall homicides in London.
With crime (as in violent attacks as a whole), only 6% actually used a knife and about 79% with no weapon. Even though knife crime and possession is, in context, a problem on a smaller scale, it is still on the rise.
Some people do not feel safe without a knife because they know others will have one on them. This means a vicious cycle of people feeling threatened and not unreasonably, wanting to defend themselves by carrying a knife with them; with this reassurance and the feeling of safety that having a knife gives some people, the problem with people carrying a knife is unresolvable and some people aren’t aware of the serious consequences of being in possession of a knife, even if you don’t use it.
There is a difference between ‘offending’; an actual knife crime and ‘possessing’. The best way of tackling the problem is to decrease possession and stop knives being on the streets in the first place. The Government and the Mayor of London are taking action to prevent a further rise in knife crime. Longer sentences are being introduced to reduce the amount of dangerous people on the streets but also to discourage possible offenders.
Police numbers, after decreasing almost 20,000 since 2010 are “struggling to cope” with the increase in knife possession and crime (according to the Home Affairs Committee). A hot topic is ‘stop-and-searches’ which is the power that police have, to stop and search anyone who they have the right to be suspicious about and believes them to have committed a crime or offence. Stop-and-search is quite controversial because of the alleged racism and discrimination faced by black men and teenagers on the streets. Last year, a study showed that black people were 9 times more likely to be stopped and searched by police for drugs than white people. In England and Wales 38% of knife possession offenders under 25 were non-white in 2017. However, in London, they are the majority (two thirds).