Knife crime: what's the solution?

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of InQuire Media

Image courtesy of Sky News

On 17 October 2019, the Guardian reported knife crime has increased by 7% since 2011. With knife crime being labelled as hitting record highs in England and Wales; the Office for National Statistics stated that 43% of the knife crime has been linked to robberies and 50% has been linked to stabbings.

The statistics show that knife crime is a clear threat. As a citizen within the UK it makes me feel somewhat unsafe. Going out on your own, especially at night, feels like you’re tempting fate.

As we know, knife crime is an occurrence which dominates the news consistently. But, most importantly, how do we tackle it?

To tackle this issue, we must mitigate the cause. But, the problem we, and the government are facing is, we can’t agree on what that is.

If we look at the locations in which knife crimes are increasing, as reported by Sky News on 20 August 2019, Kent and West Yorkshire show the fastest increase. However, the highest overall rates, per 100,000 people, is London at 168 stabbings, second being West Yorkshire with 118 and Manchester being close third at 112.

The BBC quoted from the Office of National Statistics that Yorkshire’s wealth is £16,000 in terms of income per person in 2016, below the national average of £20,000. Whereas, the North West (Manchester) is at £17,000. London is the only exception at £27,000, over the national average.

Moreover, according to the Independent, the poorest areas in London are Barking, Dagenham and Hackney. As further reported by the BBC, the areas in London where the most knife crimes occur, is Haringey, Islington, Hackney, Camden and Brent, the majority of which are in Barking, Dagenham and Hackney.

Thereby, as shown by the evidence above, there are clear links between wealth and knife crime.

But what can determine wealth?

Looking from a social-sciences perspective, wealth is influenced by education. Education can determine the quality of job an individual gets. If education is poor within an area, there are fewer qualified people, meaning businesses move elsewhere. Thereby, lower level jobs become unavailable in these areas, meaning there is a further deficit of the flow of money in areas, such as the Hackney. With less money in such areas, people are pushed towards crime to gain money. With a further increase of crime, people are more likely to use weapons, such as knifes.

As shown above, knife crimes are linked to wealth. Wealth can be linked to education and money within an area.

However, people will not simply become more qualified if there are no well-paid jobs to go into. For example, the youth of Hackney will not try to become more educated and qualified if there are no jobs there.

An easy idea to try and solve this poverty, thereby knife crime, would be urban rejuvenation,which has occurred in East London before. Using previous East London rejuvenation as an example, the schemes have been criticised for being out of touch with the local populous, due to the new housing and local areas being too expensive – forcing the local population to move into areas in Kent.

This can be linked back to the statistics which sees Kent seeing a rise in knife crime. Because redevelopment doesn’t actually solve the core problem, the unqualified and economically challenged populous will simply move away from the now expensive areas and increase knife crime where they move to.

So, how would we solve this? By working on increasing education, youth opportunities and creating more sustainable jobs. Something which is proving successful in Hackney Wick.

Hackney Wick is a 10-minute walk away from the 2012 Stratford Olympic Stadium. Before developments began on the East London area, Stratford was seen as a waste land. However, and with the developments of Westfield shopping centre and train stations, Stratford has had a growing economic investment, such as the investment from West Ham Football Club.

The residents of Hackney Wick have been given jobs in a growing retail and public services sector. With a growing ‘feel good factor’ within Hackney Wick, youth programmes have accelerated, with a growing streets arts and culture. This growing arts and culture give the residents of Hackney Wick a sense of identity, which results in better care for the community and a better lifestyle. Thus, reducing knife crime.

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