‘We must treat violence like an epidemic’
How can we defeat knife crime? Britain’s soaring knife violence shows no sign of stopping, with several stabbings in recent days. Here are four ways experts say we can end the bloodshed.
1/ Education. “If you teach a child something, especially when young, it stays with them forever,” claims campaigner Patsy McKie. Some schools have already begun teaching lessons about the dangers of knives.
2/ Police crackdown. As violence has increased, the use of stop and search has fallen: from 1.4 million searches in 2008 to under 400,000 in 2016. The tactic is controversial, but former police leader Brian Paddick thinks it could become “far more effective” if police worked with communities to target the right people.
3/ Make it a public health issue. “We must treat violence like an epidemic,” says MP Sarah Jones. This means addressing the social causes of knife crime: poverty, poor mental health and a lack of career opportunities.
4/ Money for young people. “[Children] start selling drugs from when they’re 12,” says campaigner Sephton Henry. He claims that the millions spent on, for example, anti-knife crime adverts can have a more practical use: “If we gave that money to young gang members to build a business and take them off the street, I guarantee it would make more of an impact.”
What is the best way to tackle knife crime?
Zero tolerance is needed, some argue. That means harsher sentences for those caught with knives, more police on the street, and increasing stop and search. Social programmes have their place, but we need to stop this violence now. Robust and uncompromising policing is the way forward.
There is a bigger picture, others respond. Unless the cause of violence is tackled, it will never end. That means giving money to deprived areas and investing in education. Fundamentally, it requires a shift in perspective: in seeing kids with knives not as criminals, but as victims of a society that is failing them.
- In your opinion, what is the main reason that young people carry knives?
- Consider the four options for solving knife crime discussed above. In pairs or small groups, discuss which option you think would be most effective. Rank them in order, from most effective to least. Discuss your decision with the class. As a group, can you come to a consensus?
Some People Say...
“Nothing good ever comes of violence.”Martin Luther King Jr
What do you think?
Q & A
- What do we know?
- There have been four fatal stabbings in London since last Friday. This takes the total number of homicides in London this year to 118, including 73 stabbings and 12 shootings.
- What do we not know?
- What the biggest cause of the rising violence is. Experts point to factors including police cuts, exclusions, cuts to youth services, drugs, social media and even violent music.
- 1.4 million
- According to government figures.
- Police have been accused of disproportionately targeting black people. Statistics show that black people are around eight times as likely to be stopped as white people. Four in every 1,000 white people were stopped and searched in 2016/17, compared to 29 in every 1,000 black people.
- The Home Office recently spent £1.35 million on the #knifefree campaign, designed to target young people on social media and digital TV channels.