Glasgow used to be described as the ‘Murder Capital of Europe’, but in recent years Scotland has dropped its crime rate significantly. I think there’s a lesson to learn here.
In the past 9 years there has been a 47% decrease in homicides in Scotland, and in 2016-17 no one under 20 in Scotland was killed with a sharp instrument.
Compare this to England where in the past year knife crime alone has increased by 22%.
What should be changed?
In Scotland they have implemented the ‘Scottish Violence Reduction Unit’ (SVRU), which was created in response to the large amount of Crime faced by the country.
They are funded by the government and they strive to battle knife crime by treating it as a public health issue.
This means that the police work together with the health, education and social work sectors.
Instead of aiming to battle knife crime in the traditional way, they aim to prevent it by stopping the initial problem.
People carrying knives.
When asked whether they think something similar should be set up elsewhere in the UK, A spokesperson for the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit 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.”
So it seems steps are begin to be taken around the country, but maybe something more wide spread would be even more helpful.
Specifically within the Metropolitan Police as London is a hot spot for knife related crimes.
When asked how they communicate with the Met police, a spokesperson for the SVRU said: “Part of the public health approach to violence prevention is sharing what we learn.
“The SVRU have benefited greatly from organisations all over the world generously sharing their knowledge with us. We are very happy to do the same and talk about our own experiences tackling violence in Scotland for more than a decade. Over the years we have had a good dialogue with the Metropolitan Police with a very positive exchange of ideas.”
What are we doing now?
In England we have Safer School Officers.
This is the closest we have gotten to treating knife crime as a ‘public health issue’.
Safer School Sargeant Adam Pierce said: “Safer School’s Officers (SSO) work tirelessly in working with young students at local schools educating them on the law, giving guidance and advice to both young people and school staff to ensure the most appropriate outcomes on all manner of issues.
“By using restorative approaches too they can often ensure that a perpetrator understands the gravity of their actions against victims which clearly reduces ‘re-offending’ and helps to prevent further upset to a young person’s education.
“Two of the main thing that SSO’s will always aim to educate young people about are drugs and weapons.”
Personally I feel like Scotland have found a very efficient way to deal with knife crime, and I think more steps towards treating knife crime as a ‘public health issue’ in England could be the key to making the country safer.
The Safer School’s Officers seems like a great start to this and teaching children the danger of knives will hopefully help prevent future crimes.
Even if we don’t take Scotland’s approach, I think we can all agree.
Something has to change.