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Responses To Knife Crime

Jan 4, 2008
Once again the New Year was heralded in with a host of reported stabbings in the UK. Seemingly the policies put forward by the government are proving ineffectual in tackling knife crime in the country. It now appears to be a weekly occurrence that a victim suffers an attack that all too commonly leads to death.

The press are understandably in uproar over the levels of attacks and are constantly pressuring policy makers to solve the problem of knife crime swiftly; and before anymore youngsters are slain on the nation's streets.

Studies have shown that for knife crime to be reduced the underlying causes of why people carry knives must be understood and tackled. The obvious answers are protection and insecurity of a population that are now afraid to walk the streets unarmed. Other factors are also gang culture and increasing numbers of adolescents having to carry knives for enforcement undertaking illegal drug dealing activities.

Critics have also highlighted a lack of a unified approach by members of parliament and police chiefs for tackling knife crime. MPs seemingly are calling for stricter punishments and extended prison sentences for possession of deadly weapons. Whereas some police chiefs have reported that eighty pound fines for offenders is the right path to pursue.

The police chief's argument does sound week but it must be remembered that they have the most knowledge on the issue while MPs predominantly produce policies to court the electorate's wishes and votes.

A recent report has stated that the doubling of the minimum sentence for carrying a knife from two years to four will do little to solve the knife crime issue. Apparently four years acts as too small a deterrent for people who see carrying a knife as a prerequisite of walking the streets. Taking the argument further the report has surmised that the young who carry knives do not see the strong relationship between cause and effect that adults do and therefore do not foresee the consequences of their actions.

One of Britain's leading criminologists has provided different answers than those provided by policy makers. After detailed research he came to the conclusion that the best thing MPs can do is provide opportunities to young men in deprived sections of society. These opportunities should be provided through increased education, training and jobs in order to take away the disadvantages felt by many in certain areas.

What is certain is that something has to be done rapidly to slow the increase in knife crimes countrywide. An estimate that a knife crime occurs in Britain every twenty four minutes offers the startling reality of just how bad the problem is. In a three month period last year there were 5,500 incidents involving knives, this figure breaks down into fifty five knife murders, two thousand stabbings and two thousand five hundred knifepoint muggings.

Of this total almost a quarter of these incidents were in the capital, revealing the shocking lawlessness on the city's streets; on average seventeen people were robbed at knifepoint a day in London. These facts show the levels of knife crime present in modern Britain; it is not just London, Manchester and Birmingham also encountered large numbers of knife crime throughout 2007.

Whether or not the government's policies actually combat the problem is still to be realised; early signs in the form of criticism from scholars in the field however are not good. Seemingly legislation is not the answer as punishments are not having the desired effect.

The ingrained issues of social opportunity and community spirit must be tackled before the levels of knife crime will begin to decline. A three pronged attack between powers, policing and prevention must be undertaken to stem the flow of violence on our nation's streets.
About the Author
Social commentator Shaun Parker looks into levels of knife crime in Britain and ways to tackle the problem. To find out more please visit http://www.knifecrimes.org/
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