Sadiq Khan’s long-awaited knife crime report was released yesterday. I am glad that the Mayor’s office and wider government are acknowledging the knife crime epidemic London is going through but the real question is; will it actually work to decrease the amount of those carrying knives and knife offences?
Three of the pledges included in the report are:
– £2m is being pledged to developing a new Children’s and Young Person’s Victim Service from 2018-2020.
– £5m is going to 38 projects in 31 London boroughs.
– McDonalds and KFC to play classical music to ‘create a calming environment’.
In the Guardian, Gary Younge reports that in Scotland between 2014/2015 ‘recorded crimes of handling an offence weapon (which includes knives) fell to their lowest in 31 years’. Karyn McCluskey and her team managed to help Glasgow, previously one of Europe’s most violent cities become a much safer place for young people, men and women. Watch her TEDX talk here. This was achieved by ‘caring people into change’. With such positive findings why are we not investing more into this approach to stop people actually carrying knives in the first place?
I have been producing a knife crime show with my incredibly talented colleagues as part of Media Trust’s London360 programme for London Live and The Community Channel. In the show we explore the causes of knife crime as well as interview ex-police officers, social changers and community groups as well as victims.
I met 22 year old East Londoner Shray (below) at the beginning of the month to discuss his experiences. His best friend was stabbed to death ‘on his own doorstep’ after becoming involved in a gang. Shray explained how he couldn’t help but think:
‘If it happened to him it could happen to me…I just thought what’s the point in living?’
These feelings led him to carry a knife and become involved in illegal activity. Shray was attacked and was in hospital for 3 months suffering from stab wounds on his back and shoulder. Shray has since ‘turned [his] life around’ and is currently at university.
What is striking is the cyclical nature of knife crime. Shray’s story is not dissimilar to others. Knife Crime affects so many people other than the victim, the offender and their respective families. Friends are affected deeply which can lead them down a similar path. The Mayor’s report explains that ‘recent data suggests that the majority of knife crime is not gang-related’. Instead many people, especially young people, are carrying knives out of fear for their lives.
The Mayor’s knife crime report is interesting and easy to digest. However, it seems to me that the steps being taken consist of mainly injecting money into procedures and different government and community groups. Whilst this is desperately needed I cannot help but wonder if it will actually stop people from carrying knives or commiting knife crime offences. I believe we need enormous socio-economic change in London and the UK which can only really come from government action. Echoing Shray; young people need to believe they can achieve great things and live happy lives.
*I do not own the featured image. Source: Katie Collins/PA Wire