We all know the UK, predominantly London, has a major problem with knife crime and stabbings, something which appears all too frequently across our news channels, papers and websites.
The latest spate of stabbings in the capital, which took place last night, saw six people stabbed within the 24-hour period and subsequently, a 13-year-old has been left fighting for his life.
Shockingly, it’s the 41st fatal stabbing to take place in the country’s capital city in 2018 alone – which makes it, astonishingly, almost one stabbing every other day.
Thursday’s violence marks the highest number of knife attacks on a single day for the current year and follows tragic events on New Year’s Eve, where four teenagers were stabbed to death in London.
According to the Office for National Statistics, from the period of April 2016 to March 2017, there were a total of 34,700 police recorded offences involving a knife or sharp instrument.
Shockingly, this figure increased by nearly 6,000 incidents, from the same period the previous year, which was a total of 28,877. This suggests, if current trends continue, nearly 40,000 people will be stabbed in the UK this year.
It’s worth baring in mind that each one of those staggering numbers is in fact a human being with a family that will carry the pain of those stabbings for the weeks, months and years following such traumatic experiences.
What’s even more startling is, these are the reported cases. What about the ones which go unreported?
When we asked Metropolitan Police for further statistics, such has been the volume of stabbings of late, they were unable to pass comment.
From the number of fatal stabbings which have been reported this year in the capital, 13 victims have been teenagers, while a further 12 have all been under the age of 30.
Predominantly, the sex of the victims tends to be male.
Worryingly, the statistics show, for the year ending March 2017, the crime survey for England and Wales (CSEW) estimated 5.7 per cent of 10-to-15-year-olds knew someone who carried a knife for their own protection. According to the same survey, this figure has not decreased over time.
A similar percentage of 4.8 per cent showed the amount of 16-to-29-year-olds who knew someone who carried a knife.
There are numerous arguments which can be made explaining this dramatic increase in knife crime, with ethnicity, gender, age and socio-economic factors all said to play a part.
However, criminologist Dr Mohammed Rahman, believes influences such as music and social media can attribute to violent behaviour, particularly gang-related deaths.
Speaking to UNILAD, Dr Rahman said:
One of the key influencers is music that is readily available on open source platforms like YouTube and Instagram.
Music genres like drill and grime often consist of narratives that have the descriptions of violence and fatal violence. They also propagate gang culture and gang identity.
Another catalyst is social media. Gang members often use social media to promote the gravitas of their fraternity, reference gang rivalries, and promote criminal activities.
A decade ago, all gang activity was on the streets, and today in most cases, it’s a messy combination of the streets and social media. Essentially it’s a fusion of analogue and digital worlds.
When the discussion arose of how to combat the issue, Dr Rahman continued:
Central government needs to take the phenomenon of gangs seriously, and I would go as far as saying that some urban street gangs pose a bigger threat than terrorism in England and Wales.
The first three months of 2018 shows there’s been more cases of gangland related deaths than cases of death as a result of terrorism. Therefore, there should be an urgency from central government to ‘make sense’ of what’s going on.
I would also recommend social media sites introduce censorship when it comes to music that propagates urban street gang descriptions.
Those that participate in these videos need to also be educated, as in some cases unbeknown to them, their spoken words have influenced lethal practice.
We only succeed when our young people succeed – incredibly exciting to launch my new £7m Digital Talent Programme today to help skill-up young Londoners so they can get a foot on the digital career ladder. We need to ensure that our young people are equipped with the skills and the know-how to thrive in the digital economy of the 21st century. Through career fairs and coding programmes, web-development courses and digital marketing workshops, my Digital Talent Programme has been designed in partnership with industry to open doors to people from all walks of life – and provide young Londoners with the digital skills employers need to help our tech sector flourish #digitaltalent
Yet, London Mayor, Sadiq Khan has blasted the government and blamed austerity.
He tweeted recently, saying:
Government cuts have decimated services for young Londoners across our city.
Our message to every young Londoner across our city – don't risk your future by carrying a knife.
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) April 3, 2018
After a number of deaths which have been reported recently across the city, the mayor tweeted once more to warn citizens why no one should be carrying a knife.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Khan wrote:
I‘m angered and heartbroken by the number of violent deaths on our streets this week – and this year. It’s been devastating to see lives – so many of them young lives – senselessly ended and more families left in despair.
Let me be clear – there is no reason to carry a knife. To anyone who does – they will be caught, and they will feel the force of the law.
35 people have been charged for murder offences occurring during 2018 so far.
If you have any information on any of the killings – please call 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 to remain anonymous.
We need communities, families, friends and neighbours to give us the information we need to bring these criminals to justice.
I‘m angered and heartbroken by the recent violent deaths on our streets. @metpoliceuk patrols have already been increased and extra stop-and-search powers are in place. If you have any information about these horrific crimes – please contact the police. pic.twitter.com/SXgGqL7zIV
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) April 5, 2018
As Khan mentions in his tweets, the subsequent outcry of grief in the aftermath of any tragic event like this, whether it be from families, friends or the community, raises questions about how such violent incidents impact on others.
For instance, Dr Valerie Sinason, a child psychotherapist, told UNILAD how trauma on such a large, community-wide scale can leave young people suffering with PTSD for years to come.
Dr Sinason, explains ‘feeling heard’ by counsellors, supportive friends and family members can alleviate victims’ symptoms of PTSD, telling UNILAD:
While some with huge support networks and lucky personalities escape relatively unscathed, PTSD symptoms can last for years.
However the community trauma adds to the pain of the child victims. Also those closest to young people killed have the highest symptoms.
Mr Khan has stated the 55 killings in the capital since the start of this year were ‘heartbreaking’, while revealing there’s been an increase in violent crime in London, as well as across the rest of the country, since 2014.
If Mr Khan’s words are true, and we’ve lost £700 million from the policing budget, how will it fare for the future when another £300 million is said to be cut over the next three years.
His calls for the government to work alongside him to combat the national problem may be a much needed step in the right direction, but how many more attacks and fatalities do we have to see before something puts a stop to it?
Keeping Londoners safe is my top priority. I'm asking the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary to urgently meet with me to discuss how we can work together to tackle the evil of knife crime on our streets. https://t.co/kJrH4z724M
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) February 21, 2018
The bottom line is, don’t carry a knife. Whatever your reason, knives take lives.
Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 or alternatively, information can be given anonymously to Crimestoppers via 0800 555 111.