How to actually stop knife crime

March 15, 2019

 

Knife crime. It’s a topic that seems to be in the news every other day, and it is pretty obvious why. There were almost 43,000 knife offences in the UK between September 2017 and September 2018 alone. Yet this country still does nothing to properly address the issue. Criticism constantly targets the decision to cut police numbers by over 20,000 since 2010, but there are various other methods which could be used to solve the issue that knife crime poses to British society. Up until now though, the media and politicians alike have failed to point them out.

 

Merely putting more police on the streets in not going to resolve knife crime. While having more police on the streets may implement a greater fear of being caught amongst potential offenders, this will only stop a small amount from committing such crimes. Besides, streets ridden with police would simply be a constant reminder of how violent and dangerous today’s society has become. The better solution is to remove the incentive of offenders to commit knife crimes, which is a challenge that can be approached in various ways.

 

Schools

 

I left sixth form less than two years ago, and knife crime was an issue that was hardly raised at all throughout my years at school. This must change. Alerting kids to dangerous situation works, as the huge focus on road safety at school demonstrates. Most schools host multiple workshop days to warn of the dangers on the road, and these efforts meet some success. Personally, I remember being told that sitting at the front of the top deck of a bus is the most dangerous place to sit in the event of a crash, and duly I now never sit there. Of course, not all students would have listened to this advice, but some others would be like me. Add these figures up for all the students in the country, and that makes thousands more people who took advice on board from these workshops. Considering this success, surely similar workshops should be held regarding knife crime?

 

 

The reason why education of knife crime in schools is so crucial is because young people involved in gang culture and knife crime are most likely situated in an environment away from school that promotes such a culture. Their out-of-school lives teach them that this culture is fine. So at school, these individuals must be enlightened on the dangers of gang culture and knife crime, and get them to question their involvement in such a crowd. While some may not listen, any improvement is worth the effort. As such, it seems a no brainer to educate children on the dangers of knife crime in schools.

 

Parents & Guardians

 

While schools have the power to make an enormous impact, parents and guardians have the opportunity to make an even greater one. If parents can establish a strong level of communication with their children regarding what lies ahead of them, then young people can have a guide for making important decisions in their life. While it can be difficult to communicate with an adolescent teen, it is absolutely essential that somebody is there to recognise the potentially dark paths the child needs to avoid is this grossly underestimated stage in their life.

 

Stop the emphasis on longer jail sentences

 

While it can be argued that an implementation of longer prison sentences for offenders has increased the element of fear, and thus reduced the willingness of potential offenders to commit such crimes, evidence does not support this. With the percentage of offenders serving at least 3 months in prison for knife crime going up from 51% 10 years ago, to 82% now, sentences have clearly harshened. However, this has clearly had little impact, with knife crime offences on the rise in the UK.

 

Additionally, the young people involved in knife crime are often not inherently evil people. Rather, their environment has shaped them to think knife crime is okay, or even a necessity to defend themselves or prove themselves to their gang. By giving these misguided people life imprisonment, we are not teaching them how to improve themselves, or educating them on why they should avoid gang culture. Instead, we are punishing them for having a terrible upbringing and making incorrect decisions. This is ridiculous. While offenders must face the consequences of their actions, these consequences should be designed to help a person to recognise their mistakes and improve. We do not need to cripple these people for life.

 

 

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First published in 1965, InQuire is the University of Kent student newspaper.

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