Increase In Knife Deaths For Under 20s
This year is looking to be the most deadly since 2008 for under 20s when it comes to knife crime.
As of the end of November, 35 children and young people had lost their lives this year to knife crime, this is the third highest figure in nearly 40 years in England and Wales. Richard Garside, director of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies reported to the Guardian that in the past 40 years around 1,000 children and young people in England and Wales have died as a result of being stabbed – this works out as around 1 every fortnight!
This year, the first young person to lose their life to a knife in this country was just 7 years old. So what is being done to tackle this problem?
(Image from Leicestershire Police)
Since early 2016 Derbyshire Police have been running ‘Project Zao’ alongside Derby City Council, Youth Offending Service, Derbyshire Probation, Derby Schools and youth groups. This project has put on a series of activities designed to educate children and young people, and discourage them from carrying knives. Derbyshire Police have also held amnesties where anyone who owns knives can surrender them at certain points throughout the county with no questions asked; this is in order to reduce the number of knives on the street and in people’s possession.
In stark contrast to the high levels of knife crime in England and wales this year, Scotland have had a huge decrease in their level of knife crime. In fact, none of the knife deaths of young people so far this year have been in Scotland.
This change may be in part due to the shift in the way Scotland have decided to approach knife crime. In 2005 Scotland set up a Violence Reduction Unit as a result of a report which showed Scotland to be the most violent country in the developed world. This unit aimed to tackle some of the violence issues the country faced, including knife crime. The unit’s approach to the problem started with a harsh police response to knife crime and an increase in the punishments handed out to offenders; the legislation was changed to increase sentences and a lot of stop and search was carried out.
However, once these responses to the issue were established, the approach took a slightly different turn. The police mapped out the gangs, they identified those they deemed ‘most likely’ to offend and they invited them to voluntarily attend events. They gave those who did attend a harsh warning, showing that offences would not be tolerated, but then they educated them on the harm knife crime causes. As part of this event they had a mother who had lost a child to knife crime speak about her experiences.
Finally, the intervention offered those who attended a way out of the lifestyle and situations they were in. It treated knife crime as a public health issue where people need education and support. These people were offered help with housing, relocation, employment and training. They were given a number to call if they wanted to take part in the programme, which many did.
Since the introduction of the programme, and the establishment of the Violence Reduction Unit, Scotland has seen incidents of knife crime plummet – from 40 children and young people in the 5 years to 2011, to just 8 in the next 5 years to 2016.
Meanwhile in England and Wales the number of young people killed in knife crime has been consistently above 30 since the mid-90s. More locally still, in July it was reported that there was a 14% rise in knife crimes in Derbyshire in the year 2016-17 in comparison to 2015-16. Although this increase is lower than the national rate, an increase at all is concerning, and an increase of as much as 14% very concerning in our own local area.
For more details see:
For more information about Derbyshire’s Project Zao go to: http://www.derby.gov.uk/community-and-living/crime-prevention/preventing-knife-crime-in-derby/