I confess, I have never been an ‘academic’, I left school with two A Levels and a Jamboree Bag. In truth, I’m never likely to be an academic either. I have had three jobs since leaving school, and every one of them involved being a practitioner of one kind or another. I’m not intimidated by ‘maffs’ and ‘riffmatic’ though. A set of numbers is just another challenge.
As most of you will know I have a ‘thing’ about Knife Crime and somehow seem to be at odds with some of the more established academics about Knife Crime and its prevention.
So, I wrote to all 43 Forces in an attempt to get a true picture of the scale of the problem across England and Wales. Then I thought, I can draw some pretty graphs and charts too. I won’t feel so left out.
It has to be said I got a colourful variety of responses, some Forces even went overboard and gave me far more data than I had requested. Some gave their results in Calendar Years, and some in Financial years, but at least they gave me something I could work with. One Force that shall remain nameless suggested that I contact the Coroner as they couldn’t tell me how many persons had been killed by knife or bladed object. A small number haven’t yet replied, so where you see value of zero on a graph, they are almost certainly one of those. In the case of the Met I am still waiting for the figures for the second half of 2017.
With 5 Forces still to provide me with ANYTHING the total number of people killed by knives or other pointed objects in England and Wales was
2015 – 158
2016 – 177
2017 – 173
The total number of people injured by Knives etc (e.g. non-fatal stabbings etc) was
2015 – 9272
2016 – 9922
2017 – 8719
I expect all of these figures to rise, especially the 2017 totals, once I finally get the outstanding data.
Where did all these attacks happen? Are there any unexpected hotspots?
As a faux-academic I think it’s quite clear that there are only maybe half a dozen or so Forces that have a real problem with Deaths and Injuries by knife etc. However any death is one too many, whoever the victim is, whatever his/her background is and whichever Force it is. The killing simply has to stop.
One point that I feel I need to expand upon, I have heard figures quoted that are massively bigger than those above. In the main they refer to knife-enabled crime such as robbery, aggravated burglary, any offence where a knife is produced but not used to cause injury. We must definitely not forget those crimes but here I am concentrating on deaths and injuries.
What can we do about it? I have written about Knife Crime many times before, and unless anyone comes up with another, better, suggestion, I still see the two ways forward as a) Education and b) Stop and Search, preferbaly in conjunction with each other. I have read ‘proper’ academics papers that suggest that Stop and Search has no effect on Knife Crime. I don’t have anywhere near enough pieces of paper to argue with that effectively, but I simply don’t agree. Any weapon used in the commission of an offence is carried through the streets at some point. During that time it, and its carrier, are always vulnerable to a Stop and Search if sufficient grounds exist. I have always maintained that to retain its credibility Stop and Search should be used, but used lawfully and ethically. I have previously written about the reduction of Stop and Search instigated by Theresa May, and the main post can be found here.
Finally, I have heard it said that ethnic minorities are unfairly targeted by Stop and Search. I have always maintained that if you test the ‘available population’ that is no longer true. Last night I happened upon this post in The Spectator which not only appears to support my view, but states that government knew this but had it spun differently.