Graphics: Alessia Peretti
The number of stabbings recorded in England and Wales in 2018 was the highest since records began. London was the city with the highest number of fatalities.
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said that the police have been promised an extra £100m by the government to tackle this “disease.”
Forces including the Metropolitan Police Service (Met) and Greater Manchester Police will receive further financial support to address the crisis.
The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) said that the money could help boost the number of officers attending crime scenes, increase the use of stop and search, and help thwart gang-related activities.
Though promising, the fund is said to fall short by £200m. The Met’s Commissioner, Cressida Dick, told journalists that she suspected some relation between the falling police numbers and the troubling rise in violent crime.
The number of police officers in England and Wales has dropped by around 20,000 since 2010. Yet, Prime Minister Theresa May has denied this correlation.
As of March 8 2019, 41 out of every 100 homicides were stabbings. The most recent of them was Elize Stevens (50) in North London on March 2, and Jodie Chesney in Havering, London on March 1.
The demographic of the victims has been widespread, where the youngest was a one-month old boy, and the oldest were two 84-year old twin brothers in Exeter. Nearly a fifth of those killed this year were under the age of 20, but most victims were in their 20s and 30s. Men in their 30s were the most affected.
Data from NHS England also shows an 8% increase in admissions of people for assault with a sharp object.
Figures from Office for National Statistics show that 25% of victims were black – the highest proportion since data was first collected in 1997.
Generally, figures on homicide do not change from year to year, which is why the steep increase needs to be explored. There has also been an increase in drug-related stabbings, yet the cases can’t be used to explain the rise of stabbings as a whole.
The average prison term for those who are jailed for carrying an offensive weapon has gone up by over eight months, but only 85% serve at least three months, compared to 53% ten years ago.
Robert Bragg, who was once heavily involved in knife crime, said that, “giving tougher sentences will prevent people from carrying knives because nobody wants to go to jail for 10 or 15 years just for carrying one.” He is now involved in programs that encourage school children to not get involved in knife crime.
Cross county lines
Although knife crime in London has risen, other counties in the UK are also seeing an increase too. Kent has seen a staggering 152% rise between 2010 and 2018, from 346 incidents to 873.
In an interview with the Guardian, Craig Kelly, a criminology lecturer at Birmingham City University, said that knife crime is a national issue and that politicians, media and academics were “far too focused on London.” The cause of violence among different areas is thought to be attributed to spilling over from ‘county lines’ gang networks. There could also be a relation to cuts in youth services.