Knife Crime Update

Following my previous post on the topic of knife crime, I see that the BBC has an article entitled 'Is knife crime as common as we think?'

Unfortunately, most of it seems to be opinion based, from people at the 'sharp end' (if you pardon the pun) who therefore see much more than average.

The first objective part in the report says:

According to the British Crime Survey (BCS), overall violent crime has decreased by 41% since a peak in 1995.

Knives are used in about 8% of violent incidents, according to the BCS, a level that has largely remained the same during the past decade.

Unfortunately, it then moves onto the usual subjective viewpoints.

The report then says:

Richard Garside, the director of the Centre of Crime and Justice Studies at Kings College London, said: "If you look at the figures for the last 10 years the number of knife victims has remained relatively stable - although there have been spikes - at 200 to 220 a year.

"But there is some evidence the demographic has changed. The average age of homicide victims overall has been going down, with younger and younger victims."

Other objective pieces of data look at changing demographics and geographical differences - unless I've missed something, the above seem to be the only objective data points regarding changes with time.

Knife Crime

Each day it seems that we are being told about an epidemic of knife crime. We're told that stabbings are reaching unheard of proportions. Without wanting to minimise the personal consequences for anyone involved in an incident, I do wonder what the true situation is - the objective view, without the national media hunting out every story which fits the zeitgeist.

Is knife crime really more prevalent than it used to be?

It wasn't long ago that we were lead to believe that there was a paedophile on every corner, that children were at a massive risk of abuse from anyone. This lead to vigilantism - and a massive problems. The truth of the matter is that statistically children are more at risk from people who know them than from strangers, and that children were much more at risk in the sixties, seventies and eighties than today. I well remember going out in the morning, exploring with my bicycle miles from home and coming back in the evening having told nobody where I've been. Even the best parents I know would have kittens at this thought today!

Is knife crime the same? Has it been blown up out of proportion? I would like to see the stats.

Meanwhile, with each new story that appears, politicians compete to be 'tougher' than each other; to be more draconian. "Let's lock 'em all up!", they say. Whilst I agree that carrying something that can only be classed as a weapon needs to be dealt with, it's not as clear cut. One of the things boys do is do carry a penknife from time to time - I used to be a cubscout, and on my pre-mentioned bike rides I would find a quiet spot and take sticks and whittle them (badly). If I had been stopped by the police, would this result in an 'expectation of prison'? No, it seems severe. (Oddly, I hesitated over this paragraph... did my parents know I had a penknife? Yes, I seem to remember my Dad getting me an odd penknife-shaped object with sticky out bits and a corkscrew - still got it somewhere - it wasn't the most useful of things, the sticky out bits meant it wasn't very portable).

Most of the time, my penknife would stay at home, stored in a drawer. I have one in my bedside table now, and there is one in my toolbox - they're very useful.

The very popular and recently published 'Dangerous Book for Boys' lists a Swiss Army Knife as essential gear. I know there is a world of difference between the world of conkers and whittling, and with the streets of Hackney - but any new laws will need to be carefully drafted so as not to criminalise kids who cycle to the nearby woods and whittle. I can't think of a good way to do this - the phrase "without good reason" is cited, but this is open to interpretation.

If there truly is an epidemic, then I'll need to rethink, but the whole topic does feel like a media storm with politicians jumping on the bandwagon to me.... what are the hard statistics? Is knife crime really more prevalent, or is it a just more reported? If there is a change, is it statistically significant?

(I refer the reader back to one of the opening paragraphs: "Without wanting to minimise the personal consequences for anyone involved in an incident, I do wonder what the true situation is - the objective view, without the national media hunting out every story which fits the zeitgeist." )

Swiss Army Knife

Still the best small penknife. It can be carried in luggage on planes, though not in hand luggage. It is worth saving up for a high-end model, with as many blades and attachments as you can get. That said, there are good ones to be had for around $30. They are useful for jobs requiring a screwdriver, removing splinters and opening bottles of beer and wine, although this may not be a prime consideration at this time.

Leather holders can also be purchased and the best ones come with a few extras, like a compass, matches, pencil, paper, and Band-Aid.

Quoted from the US Edition of The Dangerous Book for Boys

Update: See this post.