Five dead in six days as stabbings surge

Knife-edge: Almost 15,000 knife crimes were committed in London in the past year — the highest ever number.

Do statistics give us the wrong message? A week of violence has sparked panic about a wave of knife attacks in London, but some think we are failing to see the full picture.

“I heard his last words. He said ‘oh no’ holding his stomach, and then he just fell on to the pavement. I didn’t hear him scream. He looked so helpless.”

This passer-by witnessed the last moments of Malcolm Mide-Madariola’s life. The 17-year-old was stabbed to death outside Clapham South Tube station in south London on Friday. His murder was one of five fatal stabbings in the capital in less than a week.

Hundreds of extra police officers have been deployed to cope with the violence.

“This has to stop,” declared Labour MP Ellie Reeves.

There have now been 118 homicides in the capital this year. Across the country, the number of 10 to 17-year-olds carrying knives is up 16%.

But the statistics used in the media do not always tell the full story.

Journalist Gary Younge accuses tabloids and politicians of “mistaking London for all of Britain, and mistakenly assuming that race, not class, is the only common thread.”

In reality, roughly half of fatal teenage stabbings take place outside the capital, and over the last 40 years the vast majority of knife violence has been amongst white people. Most teenagers who carry knives are not involved in gang crime.

So, do statistics give us the wrong message?

Wild west London

Not at all, say some. Looking at statistics can give us a better understanding of the trends in knife crime outside of our own limited experience. They are useful tools if we weigh the figures against each other to get a full and balanced picture.

It’s not that simple, respond others. It is easy for people to manipulate statistics to further their own agenda, as we can see by the way knife crime is often portrayed as a solely black, London-based problem. These generalised numbers encourage us to ignore factors that can shape how a person is affected by knife crime.

You Decide

  1. Are you personally worried about rising knife crime?

Activities

  1. Research the legal punishments for carrying a knife and being involved in knife crime in the UK. Produce a poster explaining the laws around knives and include statistics about rising knife crime.

Some People Say...

“No excuses: there is never a reason to carry a knife.”

Sadiq Khan

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Five people were stabbed in London since last Wednesday. The victims were Rocky Djelal, 38, Jay Hughes, 15, Malcolm Mide-Madariola, 17, an as yet unidentified 22-year-old man and an unidentified 16-year-old boy.
What do we not know?
What is driving the rise in knife crime. It is likely the result of many factors including social media and police cuts.

Word Watch

Homicides
Murders.
16%
Figures from the Ministry of Justice.
Tabloids
A newspaper that has pages half the size of a broadsheet, known for publishing sensational stories. UK tabloids include The Sun and the Daily Mirror.
White people
Glasgow, was known as the “stabbing capital of Europe” until the 2000s — the violence occurring predominantly among gangs of white men. Assaults involving knives fell by a third by 2012, and there was a 69% drop in recorded incidents of people carrying knives by 2016, according to police figures.