Public reaction

Stabbed: The Truth About Knife Crime, BBC 1, 20 January 2009

Just over a week after the Panorama programme mentioned below, BBC television screened an hour-long documentary about the dangers facing so many of the UK’s young people. For anyone having lost a son, this was a painful experience: the barbarity of gratuitous violence on CCTV followed by the damage and loss caused by aggression and knives. Finally, national television has grasped what is happening on our streets, but it isn’t available to watch again…Instead you can watch a home-grown documentary here.

Jailed for a Knife, BBC TV Panorama, 12 January 2009

Panorama showed a programme about knife crime where Raphael Rowe was given permission to interview five young men currently serving sentences for stabbings. Click here to see a short excerpt.

London demonstration, 20 September 2008

A demonstration of several thousand people was held against knife crime. The Flavasum trustees joined many other relatives and friends of families who had lost someone through knife or gun crime. See The People’s March for details.

58% of young people didn’t feel safe on London streets, the highest percentage being those aged 11 and under

Flavasum survey, Peckham, 2008

Government written response, 1 September 2008

“The Government take the problem of knife crime seriously and we are using a variety of measures encompassing legislation, enforcement, education and prevention to address it. The Home Secretary announced on 13 July tough measures to deal with those involved in knife crime through greater police enforcement, targeted action and earlier intervention and support for parents. These new measures compliment the Government’s launch of the new £100 million Youth Crime Action Plan. The clampdown on knives reflects a triple-track approach of tough enforcement, intensive support and better prevention.

“The Tackling Knives Action Programme is a targeted approach to addressing knife crime in specific areas: Metropolitan Police Service, West Midlands police, Greater Manchester police, Merseyside police, Lancashire police, Essex police, West Yorkshire, Thames Valley police, Nottinghamshire police and South Wales police. The programme will build upon the Tackling Gangs Action Programme that helped deliver a 50% reduction in gun injuries in hotspot areas in four areas across the country. The Government have asked Deputy Assistant Commissioner Alf Hitchcock, the ACPO lead on knives, to take on the role of head of the Tackling Knives Action Programme alongside his existing role as Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

“This programme will include youth forums to encourage young people to stay on the right track in the first place; knife referral projects to ensure that people convicted of carrying a knife are confronted with the dangers of carrying knives; support for parents who are concerned about their children carrying knives by encouraging them to call parenting organisations such as ‘Parentline Plus’ to receive confidential advice; encouraging local authorities to provide Safer School Partnership officers to any school that needs one; Trading Standards buy phentermine fast order prioritising test purchasing for the underage sales of knives; working with the Department of Health and local health partners to see what more we can do on knife crime in hotspot areas and supporting licensing authorities to crack down heavily on any establishment that allows underage drinking.”

Vernon Coaker, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office, 21 July 2008

The Parliamentary debate, 5 June 2008

A House of Commons debate about knife crime took place on 5 June 2008. Two important points came up: Vernon Coaker (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office) agreed that often the most effective anti-knife crime work is done by community-based organisations, but “the challenge for us all is to ensure that some of them receive not only funding but long-term sustainable funding”, which is surely an admission by government that this has not been happening.

Only Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North, Labour) raised the issue of attacks by people with serious mental conditions, and asked what the government is going to do to protect the public. Vernon Coaker’s reply was “the Government are considering, with other agencies, how we can ensure that dangerous people are not released on to the streets and how the management of people with mental health problems can be made effective, to ensure that we do not unnecessarily put people at risk because of mental health problems. A more rigorous use of the existing system and rigorous management of the tools available to us are relevant to addressing that risk.” Which, like the above reply, recognises the problem, but offers little in the way of solutions.

A call for targeted funding, 24 April 2008

We fully endorse the comments made by Ejos Ubiribo in the Guardian on 24 April 2008. Ejos lost her brother in 2002 when he was shot in west London, and is now an independent adviser to Trident:

“It is disgraceful that in 2008 there is not a centralised, government-funded programme that is focused on working with young people identified as being at risk of engaging in criminality.”

Schizophrenia and stabbings, 24 December 2007

The London Evening Standard raised the issue of Tom’s killer being a paranoid schizophrenic and although under supervision in the community, had not taken his medication prior to the attack. As Tom’s mother asked:

“Why wasn’t someone making sure he kept the appointment for his medication? The care he was getting was completely inadequate and he was able to walk into a shop, buy a knife and use it to kill Tom. We need answers because this keeps happening. How many people as sick as him are out on the streets? How many more have to die?”

Teenage deaths in London, 11 December 2007

During late 2007, the broadcast media focussed on the number of teenage deaths in London, especially Dr Kurt Barling, BBC London’s Special Correspondent. Read his comments on his web page, where he makes a number of valid points.