I confess, I have never been an â€˜academicâ€™, I left school with two A Levels and a Jamboree Bag. In truth, Iâ€™m never likely to be an academic either. I have had three jobs since leaving school, and every one of them involved being a practitioner of one kind or another. Iâ€™m not intimidated by â€˜maffsâ€™ and â€˜riffmaticâ€™ though. A set of numbers is just another challenge.
As most of you will know I have a â€˜thingâ€™ about Knife Crime and somehow seem to be at odds with some of the more established academics about Knife Crime and its prevention.
So, I wrote to all 43 Forces in an attempt to get a true picture of the scale of the problem across England and Wales. Then I thought, I can draw some pretty graphs and charts too. I wonâ€™t feel so left out.
It has to be said I got a colourful variety of responses, some Forces even went overboard and gave me far more data than I had requested. Some gave their results in Calendar Years, and some in Financial years, but at least they gave me something I could work with. One Force that shall remain nameless suggested that I contact the Coroner as they couldnâ€™t tell me how many persons had been killed by knife or bladed object. A small number havenâ€™t yet replied, so where you see value of zero on a graph, they are almost certainly one of those.Â In the case of the Met I am still waiting for the figures for the second half of 2017.
With 5 Forces still to provide me with ANYTHING the total number of people killed by knives or other pointed objects in England and Wales was
2015 â€“ 158
2016 â€“ 177
2017 â€“ 173
The total number of people injured by Knives etc (e.g. non-fatal stabbings etc) was
2015 â€“ 9272
2016 â€“ 9922
2017 â€“ 8719
I expect all of these figures to rise, especially the 2017 totals, once I finally get the outstanding data.
Where did all these attacks happen?Â Are there any unexpected hotspots?
As a faux-academic I think itâ€™s quite clear that there are only maybe half a dozen or so Forces that have a real problem with Deaths and Injuries by knife etc. However any death is one too many, whoever the victim is, whatever his/her background is and whichever Force it is.Â The killing simply has to stop.
One point that I feel I need to expand upon, I have heard figures quoted that are massively bigger than those above.Â In the main they refer to knife-enabled crime such as robbery, aggravated burglary, any offence where a knife is produced but not used to cause injury.Â We must definitely not forget those crimes but here I am concentrating on deaths and injuries.
What can we do about it?Â I have written about Knife Crime many times before, and unless anyone comes up with another, better, suggestion, I still see the two ways forward as a) Education and b) Stop and Search, preferbaly in conjunction with each other.Â I have read â€˜properâ€™ academics papers that suggest that Stop and Search has no effect on Knife Crime.Â I donâ€™t have anywhere near enough pieces of paper to argue with that effectively, but I simply donâ€™t agree.Â Any weapon used in the commission of an offence is carried through the streets at some point.Â During that time it, and its carrier, are always vulnerable to a Stop and Search if sufficient grounds exist.Â I have always maintained that to retain its credibility Stop and Search should be used, but used lawfully and ethically.Â I have previously written about the reduction of Stop and Search instigated by Theresa May, and the main post can be found here.
Finally, I have heard it said that ethnic minorities are unfairly targeted by Stop and Search.Â I have always maintained that if you test the â€˜available populationâ€™ that is no longer true.Â Last night I happened upon this post in The Spectator which not only appears to support my view, but states that government knew this but had it spun differently.