On 14 September 2020, the UK Government introduced tougher stop and search rules in an attempt to tackle knife crime.
In a bid to deal with the soaring levels of knife crime across the UK these new orders, also known as ‘Serious Violence Reduction Orders’ (SVRO’s), aim to persecute a small minority of persistent re-offenders.
Offenders previously convicted of carrying an offensive weapon or a knife, including those who have received non-custodial sentences, could be vulnerable to stop and search regulations under SVRO’s. The order gives the police the power to stop and search those individuals to see if they are carrying an offensive weapon and therefore repeat offending.
Crime and Policing Minister, Kit Malthouse said: “Knife crime has a devastating effect on young lives and our neighbourhoods“. Although it is true, I personally struggle to see the correlation between wanting to prevent knife crime and giving the police even more intrusive powers than they already have.
When announcing this new measure, the UK government also made reference to the fact that the two-strike rule, introduced in 2015, would persecute repeat offenders found with a weapon under SVRO’s.
Having the power to stop and search someone will only lead to more mistrust towards the police amongst young people. Gang members will have more reasons to resist interactions with the police and more importantly, more young people might be put behind bars.
This new measure could create more animosity towards the police and fuel feelings of mistrust from people, who may already feel a divide between the police and the general public.
This policy also seems to assume that people who were once convicted of a knife-related crime are likely to commit that offence again. Even if they do re-offend, how is giving them the same punishment as before going to lead to better results?
There is an old saying that when a school is built, a prison is no longer needed. But, instead of investing in young people from marginalised backgrounds, people born into gangs and from youth offender institutions, the government wants to police them even more.
Why are we not investing more money into education programmes, community building programs, housing projects and job opportunities for young people, who may have the potential but not the means?
These new powers seem to solely promote a narrative of hate and mistrust by painting those, who have been convicted of such crimes, as villains likely to re-offend. Past offenders are shown as being less human, less trustworthy and less deserving of the right to not be searched.
While the UK government has an enormous amount of issues to deal with, from coronavirus to Brexit, why was this policy so prominent?
During an extremely hot political climate, this is just the icing on top of the cake.