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Knife crime crisis

Vicious circle of violence, death and lifelong grief

Almost every week come fresh reports of another teenage, or even younger, victim of knife crime. Another life, barely begun, is ended. Another devastated family will grieve forever. Perpetrators are often caught, convicted and put away, to spend their own young lives locked up. When eventually released, some return to the same violent streets where knife-carrying gangs and individuals continue to roam: older yet, frequently, no wiser. The vicious circle remains unbroken as they re-arm and ready themselves again. The stabbings, woundings and killings continue. Realistically, it’s rarely the middle-class kids from the leafy suburbs who are the perpetrators of knife crime, although they too can be the victims. Statistics show without doubt that it’s mainly children from more deprived areas who carry and are prepared to use knives – in territorial wars, from bravado, in self-defence. Sometimes it’s the truly brave kid trying to stop a knife fight who becomes the tragic casualty – and the statistic. Ethnicity, race, religion and background all play their part, but none of these can, nor should be, blamed for the knife crime epidemic that continues unabated.

Multiple variations of bladed weapons can be bought online, even on Amazon. Third-party sellers are required to comply with the law on the sale of knives, including listing products as for over-18s only and providing age verification on delivery. But such restrictions can clearly be easily bypassed. Even so, banning the sale of bladed weapons is not the complete answer; a kitchen knife can kill as efficiently as a so-called zombie-style blade.

Specifically trained police officers and educators do their best with school and community visits. Heroic volunteers, some of whose own children have been lost to knife crime, battle to turn the tide, as do charities such as Lives not Knives. More must be done, though. Labour has published a plan to “take back our streets”, the Tories talk tough on sentencing. But as parties prepare their election manifestos, they must all surely include a specific, fully funded pledge to fight back against child knife crime.

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