Knife Crime – A Five Point Plan

My phone has been ringing consistently in the last 24 hours – a succession of calls from journalists wanting to talk about Knife Crime, or to arrange radio and TV interviews to talk about Knife Crime. Prior commitments have meant that I’ve had to turn almost all of those requests down, but this is what I would have said given the chance:

(1) A Long Term Plan

We need a long term plan for dealing with knife crime – at least ten years, preferably twenty. We need to understand that, when problems have been a generation or more in the making, they might just take a generation or more to mend.

We have got to get beyond the relentless demand for quick fixes. The professional and effective use of police Stop & Search powers undoubtedly saves lives, but it is not the long term answer to anything.

(2) A Public Health Approach

We need to re-frame our understanding of violence, recognising that it is at least as much a public health issue as it is a crime problem. Violence is a disease that can be caught and transmitted. But it can also be diagnosed and treated.

(3) Young People as the Answer

The current wave of concern tends to define young people as the problem. In fact, they are a very large part of the solution. We need to involve them in designing and delivering every single aspect of the response to knife crime.

(4) Operational Independence from Political Control

The response to knife crime needs to remain completely independent from any form of political control. When politicians are in charge, experience suggests that the response to any pressing concern remains vulnerable to partisan priorities and shifting political winds. And we simply cannot allow that to keep happening. Some things are far too important to be left to politics. Knife crime is one of them.

(5) Policing at the Heart, but not the Head

Policing will always be first in line to respond to knife crime, and that is exactly as it should be. There is no greater duty or privilege for a police officer than to save a life, but the police should not be in overall charge of the plan. Knife crime is – and has always been – a whole society problem that demands a whole society solution.

 

There is so much more that might be said but, at this particular moment in time, these seem to me to be the five most important things.

 

 

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6 thoughts on “Knife Crime – A Five Point Plan

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  1. I have always read your posts with an admiration. You come from a place that embraces every person without any “ism” and always from the heart… thank you for all you do

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  2. Readers might gain some insight from reading this official review of the Street Crime Action Team, a politically led response to street robbery, which started in 2002. See: https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20101208174830/http://rds.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs2/rdsolr0203.pdf

    The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, chaired regular meetings and relevant persons attended. Some found the meetings uncomfortable. The PM as I recall got rapid change on the enforcement of court-imposed bail conditions.

    Yes violent knife crime is NOT the same as street robbery and the times have changed.

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  3. I’m afraid it will take several generations to fix this problem, and yes, there may be a correlation between the reduction of police numbers and increase in knife crime but this is co-incidental and certainly does not help.
    I would suggest the real reason behind the increase is the lack of respect for others and the value of life. I began my Police Service in the 1960’s and noticed the increasing numbers of parents not giving guidance or rules to their children, who grew up had their own children who likewise showed a lack of moral standards, and so it continues in cycles.
    This results in an increasing number who care not about others, or how their actions affect others. This is why, in their eyes, life is cheap. Unless this can be addressed, I’m afraid that the we will be only working on containing the rise in knife crime, not solving the main issues.

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  4. No number of police on the streets will correct the numbers of young people resorting to knife crime. Beliefs about carrying a weapon or that it is safer to carry a weapon than not to, come from people’s experience that these things are true and okay. Experience comes from what people see or hear, which means the people these youngsters are surrounded with also hold these same beliefs. That means communities are to blame and if communities are left to feel unequal or down trodden and that the only way to win in life or get what you want is to put another person in fear, then that is how young people in those communities will continue to believe and behave. Numbers of police officers is of no correlation. To correct this behaviour you need to correct the beliefs which means you need to correct inequality and poverty that feeds into it. Another angle to consider.

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