On January the 1st, the headlines on BBC news reported that 4 people were stabbed on New Years Day. With this grim statistic, the annual crime records were reset and the slow degeneration of London and a number of other UK cities continued. The Commissioner for the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick, has stated on numerous times that the youth today have no regard, respect or fear of the Police. This is doubtless the case, as increasing numbers of young British teenagers feel the need to carry knives for self-defence. If the increase in acid attacks concerning due to its sheer malevolence, such a phenomenon suggests there is a feeling that the Police, hamstrung by repeated cuts, are unable to enforce the law.
Regardless of the probability of what would legally be known as Grievous Bodily Harm, it is felt to be. This is the primary issue at the moment. Regardless of the real risk, it is the perceived risk that will make people react: If individuals believe that they are at risk, they will react. Sociologists and Psychologists have stated for many years that the survival instinct is the most powerful in individuals, and typically trumps all else.
Backing this up is the Police estimate that 75% of all seized knives come from people not involved with gangs. And it is hard to not view it as a threat when 80 people were knifed to death in London in 2017. According to the BBC reporting knife crime in London, doctors and medical staff say it is ‘common’ to treat 16-year-olds with multiple knife wounds. Another BBC report in Liverpool showed teenagers and twenty-year-olds carrying knives and machetes. They say they have to; they live in fear of their lives and the “cycle never breaks”. This is only too true – Merseyside knife crime has risen by 25% between 2012 and 2017, according to the same BBC report. Another 15-year old who used to carry (or “roll with”) a knife said that despite whatever legal punishments exist, there will always be people for whom being in jail would be preferred over being stabbed to death. If they were members of the American NRA, we could expect them to say what is becoming a creed: “When seconds count, the Police are only minutes away”. Most of those who carry knives, both victims and perpetrators, do not want to do so; they want protection and safety. Therefore, might not providing them with non-lethal protection be an answer?
It can be argued that crime levels are below 2011 levels. But irrespectively of that fact, is this the Britain we want to live in? Do we wish to know that somebody has been attacked with a knife every 16 minutes?
Is there another option we have not considered? Can a proposal that would work with the natural survival instinct that would not merely try to even out ‘The Balance of Fear’ – to make people fear the courts more than others with knives? There are many effective proposals and actions being taken to ensure children do not get into the wrong circles, to begin with, and while these are laudable, I do not believe they identify the primary root behind the knife epidemic: fear. Until we can find a solution, I fear that increasing numbers of people will carry knives for self-defence, and our inner cities will continue to slowly bleed. And that is something we cannot afford.