Knife Crime vs Stop And Search (Plus a Few Ideas)

You’ll be pleased to know that I’m not going to regurgitate much of what I have previously written about Stop/Search or Knife Crime. Any or all of that is available in previous posts.

This really concerns the views of the Twitterati on the subject.

I posted a Poll on Twitter seeking people’s views on Stop/Search in relation to Knife Crime. I had no control over who responded to the poll and I requested that people retweeted it, so that it wasn’t solely my followers who responded and it became as random as possible.

It was set to run for just three days. Now the results are in.

Quite a comprehensive result, only 3% think that Stop and Search doesn’t have a part to play and should not be increased in some way. HOWEVER, that is just the beginning. The majority of people who responded to the poll don’t seem to have a problem with Stop/Search within the context of Knife Crime. We have just seen the whole of Birmingham subject to a s60 PACE order for a few consecutive days. Did we have any significant complaints against that decision? No, I don’t think so. Did we see rioting on the streets of Birmingham in protest against it? No we did not. Therefore, I assume, that under the current crisis the majority of the public are broadly in favour of the tactic. The modern Police Service should be trusted to carry out Stop/Search ethically and lawfully, and they should be supported in so doing, not threatened like Theresa May did in 2014.

There are some people who think that I am promoting Stop/Search as some kind of silver bullet. I am not, but before I leave the topic I thought it would be useful to examine the long-term correlation between Stop/Search and Knife Crime.

Stop/Search data relates to s1 PACE only

Knife = Knife, Bladed Implement, Pointed Article

Stop/Search data relates to s1 PACE only

Knife = Knife, Bladed Implement, Pointed Article

I cannot state from pure data that there is a direct correlation between certain crimes and Police Numbers, but there is a distinct upturn in Knife-Related violence following Theresa May’s edict about Stop and Search in 2014, that is simply a FACT.

Do I think Stop/Search alone is the solution? Most definitely not. It is a complex problem and will require a bit of joined-up thinking before it is resolved. Dare I suggest a holistic, and multi-agency approach?

What has caused this problem? It didn’t used to be like this.

In my opinion, in 2010, something very significant happened. David Camoron became Prime Minister with Theresa May as his Home Secretary. Between them they dreamt up ‘Police Reform’. They engaged a man with no experience whatsoever of Policing to conduct a number of ‘independent’ reviews and come up with the cure. In tandem with this we conveniently had #Austerity. Just one result of that policy was the culling of approx 21,000 Police Officers. However, that is not the end of the problem. Alongside the cuts to Policing we witnessed cuts in Education, Justice, Probation, NHS and probably many others. We saw blind allegiance to the principle of privatisation in as much of the Public Sector as possible. Were sound, experienced, knowledgeable voices listened to when they spoke up against it? No they were not. The Tories were on a roll and not about to listen to anyone.

In short, all of these cuts and reductions of services has created a void, a ‘Perfect Storm’ which means that no single agency can tackle the problem alone.

Stop/Search has two main benefits, properly and lawfully conducted. It can increase the detections of these weapons. They are all carried through the streets and are ‘in play’ to be found. Secondly, the mere fact that Stop/Search is being conducted should act as a deterrent to youths carrying these lethal weapons. We should see a return of ‘fear’ on the streets. Not fear of being given a kicking by some bullyish Police Officer, but a fear of the consequences of being caught.

Sentencing is woeful. Long, strong sentences just for merely carrying a knife should be introduced and enforced. If you actually use a knife the sentence should be doubled, at least.

What has happened to Youth Clubs, After School Clubs and similar? Gone, another lamented victim of ‘the cuts’.

More and more kids are being excluded from school because the kids get frustrated and the schools don’t have the resources to adequately deal with them.

An absolute eternity ago, when I was a Community Bobby, we had any number of ways of engaging with the local youths. I worked in Brent at the time. It doesn’t get more multi-racial and multi-cultural than Brent. Did we have a problem with youths stabbing and killing each other? No we did not. Why not? Possibly because we engaged with the children at an early age. We were invited into schools and gave talks, and showed videos on the perils of playing near water, playing on railway lines, and other such dangerous pursuits.  Were we laying down the law and forcing them to “do as I say”? No. I spent a week at a Teacher Training College learning how to talk to children. This was followed by an attachment to a school. We were not trying go bully them we were trying to educate them and save their lives.

Was I lefty, liberal officer that let the kids get away with everything? No. Ask anyone who knew me or worked with me. There was a line and if you crossed it you got nicked. I would happily hold my performance up against any other officer of my era, confidently. There is nothing wrong with being ‘busy’ but at the same time caring about the safety and well-being of the kids on your patch. Whatever their ethnicity, who knows what they will grow up to be, and become? They deserve to be taught how to stay safe and not to kill or injure others. We invested time, often our own, in the youths. In the main it paid off. Some invariably strayed from the path, the majority (from all cultures and backgrounds) did not. I am not aware that any of the youths I or my colleagues were involved with went on to kill or maim anyone. Knife fights and stabbings in general were almost non-existent, and it most certainly was NOT the norm to carry a ‘blade’.

Their parents supported us too. When the politics of the local council changed we were no longer invited into the schools as the ruling councillors had a problem with that. Was that the end of the programme? No it was not. The parents clubbed together and hired the local church hall for a session outside of school hours. Were those children resentful? No. Some of our number played football with them or coached them. In the streets it was “good morning Mr Smith” or whatever. They had respect, for us, and more importantly, for each other.

I was even invited to join the Board of Governors of the local Secondary School, so somebody outside of the Police Service must have thought we were doing something right.

Can we reintroduce this policy/practice? No we can not. Not any time soon. Even if there is a political and social will to do it, we can’t because we have lost 21,000 officers. We don’t have enough officers available to function at that level any more.

In short, the government have caused this. Specifically David Camoron and Theresa May. They have created all the factors that have led to the Knife Crime Crisis. Government policies have created a hole, a void, a vacuum that we cannot now fill. No, or little, intelligence now comes out of the communities to tell us who are responsible for these horrific crimes.

Increase Stop/Search? Yes, but that will not cure it alone.

Recruit xx000 more Police Officers? Yes, but they will not hit the streets for approx 6 months and then need to get up to speed on the streets, so that won’t be a quick fix. To replace the experience already lost will take literally years.

Give the Police £xx Million? Yes, but again, that will pay for certain things, but it certainly won’t cure the epidemic overnight.

Bring back Youth Clubs and After School Clubs etc? Yes, but where are the resources to allow it, and that won’t change children’s mentality/culture overnight.

Education? Vitally important to educate the children about the consequences of Knife Crime. Not “this is illegal, you must not do it” but a bit of a shock with graphic, if necessary, examples of Knife Crime, addresses from the various charities set up to help the victims of Knife Crime etc.

The government have starved many different services of resources. Some joined-up thinking needs to happen to identify how these shortages can be reversed. However this will not happen until Theresa May stands up and says “Sorry Britain, we got it wrong”. Can you see that happening?

This is not a quick fix problem. This is not a single agency solution. Anybody who thinks I was ever suggesting otherwise doesn’t know me very well. It shouldn’t really be a political football. Our children are being massacred, and the people who created the circumstances in which that crisis thrives are saying and doing precious little about it. I don’t care what ethic origin the kids are, neither the offenders nor the victims. The majority of them are children or young people and whatever they may have done, they do not deserve to die.

I am quite clear in my mind who is responsible for this disaster, and I have a reasonable idea what it will take to begin to end it, a combination of education, robust Policing, tougher sentencing and an appropriate level of resourcing, what I don’t know is how the hell we’re ever going to achieve it, and if we do, how long it will take.

ADDENDUM

The story of Stop and Search under all legislations since 2001

The chart above tells the tale of Stop and Search across the 21st Century. I have my views but I’m sure that others more highly qualified than me will tell us that all is well.

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