Knife crime on our streets is endemic. The pervasive nature of the problem sadly becomes more apparent on a daily basis, as more young people lose their lives.
The New Year brought about a depressing reality in London, in a short 15 hour period between New Year’s Eve into New Year’s Day four young men died in unrelated knife attacks in north, east and south London. These deaths brought the total number of fatal knife attacks in the capital to 80 in 2017. In March there were more murders than in any month for more than a decade.
These events are systemic of the general trends of knife crime across England and Wales. Figures released by the ONS show that between September 2016 and September 2017, recorded crime rose across England and Wales. With knife crime rising by 21% nationwide, and a similar amount in London.
For the families of victims this is a painful reminder that the epidemic continues. There exists a feeling that the government is doing little to help prevent the rise in knife crime. Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, in an article for The Guardian argued that “in recent years as the government’s long-term approach to crime and cuts to preventative services have started to bite.” As representative of London, Mr Khan has also received backlash for failing to tackle the rise in knife crime. The aforementioned statistics are clear evidence that the government’s knife crime strategy is failing.
Doreen Lawrence, mother of murdered teenage Stephen Lawrence, said the latest surge in knife crime across London would be taken more seriously if the victims were white, “It comes under the race issue again – look who’s dying. If that was the amount of kids who were in the white community that were dying, do you think that something would have been done?”
David Lammy, MP for Tottenham, has made it clear that action on knife crime is paramount, after four people were killed in his constituency. Lammy calls for the focus to move away from youths, though a reassuring rhetoric; it creates a cycle that does very little to stop the knife crime epidemic. Lammy argues that this epidemic is in fact driven by a ‘sophisticated network of veteran organised criminals’ and it is therefore those who should be targeted, there is little to be achieved by targeting ‘footsoldiers’, and instead efforts must focus on those at the top of London’s criminal networks that are exploiting our young people.
To truly address the root causes of this epidemic it is essential that those who have the ability to so have adequate resources. It is no secret that the police forces are being cut, along with Border Force budgets, leaving them with little resource to tackle serious organised crime.
At JAN Trust, through our Web Guardians™ programme we work with women and mothers to enable them to develop the skills to help protect their children both online and offline, encouraging them to have and maintain an open dialogue between them and their children about the dangers that exist to young people today. This work is vital, in protecting our future generations.
To truly tackle the epidemic of knife crime, that is destroying so many lives, we must tackle the root causes of the problem, the statistics show that the rate of knife crime across the UK shows little signs of reducing. It is time to act.