The prevalence of knife violence among British youth has been compared to the spread of a virus.

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Stabbing Epidemic: Knife Crime on the Rise in Britain

Stabbing is a significant problem in Britain, with children as young as 12 years old getting stabbed in brutal knife attacks. As a result, campaigners and local authorities have installed “bleed control kits” throughout the country, which contain publicly accessible medical equipment that can help stem bleeding from catastrophic wounds until an ambulance arrives. The kits are placed outside conflict hot spots like supermarkets and fast food outlets. These kits are a grim reminder of an issue that blights the lives of more and more young people each year.

Knife crime in England and Wales is on the rise

With police recording around 45,000 offences in March 2022, a 9% increase compared to the previous year and a 34% increase compared to 2010/11. Nearly 125 cases are recorded daily. According to Patrick Green, CEO of the Ben Kinsella Trust, an anti-knife crime charity, the majority of young people do not carry knives because they know it is wrong. However, society has failed to protect some young people, which makes them more vulnerable to being drawn into crime and ultimately, violence.

Green likens the devastation caused by knife crime to a “virus or epidemic,” emphasizing that there is not one specific profile that puts someone at risk. The sense of fear that stabbings generate creates a situation where young people feel unsafe and sometimes make the wrong decision to carry knives to protect themselves. This, in turn, makes them more vulnerable to injury. Around 4% of young people in England and Wales are estimated to carry a weapon one or more times each year, with the majority doing so because they feel vulnerable.

Though the odd murder catches the public’s attention from time to time, Green claims that knife crime is not getting enough attention despite the fact that each death is a national tragedy. Even when violence is not deadly, it can still have a devastating emotional and psychological impact on victims, scarring them for life. The number of people killed with a knife or other sharp instrument in England and Wales rose by 19% in the year ending March 2022, with more than 280 people killed, 51 of whom were teenagers.

Green believes that policies based on deterrence are not a “silver bullet” despite the fact that successive governments of both left and right have adopted punitive measures aimed at deterring what is often labelled as “gang violence”.

Possessing a knife carries a maximum penalty of four years imprisonment and an unlimited fine. While recognizing their importance, Green believes that policies based on deterrence are not the ultimate answer. Instead, prevention, early intervention, and education are essential to tackle knife crime. Besides, raising awareness among parents, carers, and mentors about what they can do to combat the problem is equally important.

Knife crime is everyone’s responsibility, according to Green. Though police and politicians carry a significant burden, everyone can do something about it. To combat knife crime, it is crucial to find out what concerns young people, intervene early, and help them live positive lives, enabling them to achieve their goals.


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