Explained: Ways To Combat Knife Crime

With knife crime in England and Wales reaching over 37,000 offences in England and Wales alone last year, we look at how this can be combated.

England is almost infamous for knife crime, with 8 stabbings happening in one week alone earlier this year.

Current Stance

When asked for their current stance on knife crime, a Kent Police Spokeswoman said: “Kent Police treat all types of violent crime, including knife crime, extremely seriously.

“The small minority of people who carry knives or sharp instruments should know that we actively seek to prosecute them.

“Carrying a knife or weapon for `protection’ is also illegal. In fact by doing so people are potentially placing themselves in greater danger because the knife could be used against them by another individual.”

Scotland’s Approach

In Scotland they have the ‘Violence Reduction Unit’ (VRU) that was formed to help combat all forms of violent behaviour, but particularly knife crime.

On the VRU website it says,” A decade ago Glasgow was branded the murder capital of Europe. Determined to tackle the city’s addiction to violence Strathclyde Police decided they needed a new approach.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish VRU said: “”There is a lot of innovative violence prevention work being carried out all over the UK.

“For example, police and public health have come together to form the West Midlands Violence Prevention Alliance. In Wales we’re also seeing excellent work in the area of preventing adverse childhood experiences or ACEs. The evidence they have produced shows up to 60% of all violence in Wales could be prevented if they focus on creating safe, nurturing and happy childhoods. Communities are the best people to lead on solutions to violence and it all starts with the belief that violence is preventable, not inevitable.

No one organisation working alone can break the cycle of violence.

“Part of the public health approach to violence prevention is sharing what we learn. Over the years we have had a good dialogue with the Metropolitan Police with a very positive exchange of ideas.

“Violence prevention is everyone’s business. In Scotland health, education, government, police, the third sector and a host of others have come together determined cure the violence affecting our communities. No one organisation working alone can break the cycle of violence.”

The main purpose of the VRU isn’t to catch offenders, but instead it aims to ‘prevent the onset of violence’.

The way in which they tackle this is by treating violence as a public health problem, and attempting to improve the health and quality of life of all people in Scotland.

In 2005, The Guardian posted an article titled ‘Scotland has second highest murder rate in Europe.

Now that the VRU is trying to clean up the streets, crime in Scotland is at a 40 year low.

Probably the closest thing to this in England is ‘Operation Sceptre’ that the Metropolitan Police run.

However the aim of ‘Operation Sceptre’ is to catch the people who not only carry and use knives, but also supply them.

If something more akin to the VRU was implemented in England then perhaps we would see similar results to Scotland.

Education

When I spoke to the Ben Kinsella Trust about knife crime, they said education is key to solving crime: “part of any solution has be an investment in preventative work, if we are going to solve this then stopping young people carrying knives in the first place is crucial.  Working in schools and youth clubs to educate young people away from knife crime is essential.”

More workshops in schools could be an effective way at lowering knife crime.

In London, some schools have a ‘Safer Schools Officer’. Having this type of officer at most schools could help students get more comfortable around Officers, meaning that they can be properly taught the dangers of carrying knives.

Safer Schools Sergeant Adam Pierce from the Met Police said: “Two of the main thing that SSO’s will always aim to educate young people about are drugs and weapons.

“This is not something new and we have various lessons and workshops that aim to address concerns around these issues that we have developed over the years often in conjunction with other agencies. Our education of young people is supported by random weapon screenings arranged with the schools and weapons sweeps of areas frequented by young people including school travel routes.”

Harsher Laws

Earlier this year, the law was changed in regards to possession of knives.

There is now a minimum sentence of six months custody set by law for offenders who use any type of weapon to threaten.

Although, the guideline gives the highest sentences to those offenders who threaten people with knives or similarly dangerous weapons (acid). Meaning knife crime offenders will face more than the six month minimum.

Even after these changes, people think making the laws harsher could help to stop knife crimes.

According to the website of knife crime charity, ‘Families Against Knives’, they believe that the law should be changed to:

  • Carrying a Knife – ‘5 Years in prison
  • Using a Knife – ‘Life Sentence’

But is a punishment like this too severe? Would it even deter people from committing these crimes?

Vote in our poll here to have your input.

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