The latest UK knife crime statistics have shown that thousands of persons were attacked with intent to rob in 2011. The disturbing statistics about knife and gun crime are nothing new, and they are problems which do not appear to be getting better. Protect Yourself is currently campaigning for body armour to be made a tax-free commodity, to allow those professionals and concerned citizens at risk to protect themselves, at a lower cost. Currently body armour is charged at normal VAT, yet protective boots are VAT free. See BODY ARMOUR PETITION for more information on that. We plan to start promoting that throughout this year, and it is something Director Peter Nunn of Protect Yourself Ltd is very clear on:
“Body armour should be a tax-free purchase for all, you should not tax essential personal protective equipment, it’s not right”
The knife robberies statistic of over 15 thousand attacks (only those reported, many more are not) during 2011 in the UK, shows that thousands of people were robbed at knife-point last year, which is over one thousand per month. It is a disgusting and worrying, yet accurate, depiction of a crime ridden nation which can only be solved through drastic action, ideally a massive increase in police numbers, and a greater public awareness and intolerance of violent and anti social behaviour.
The latest issue concerning UK citizens are statistics being circulated in the national press that four out of five persons who are caught with a knife do not receive a jail sentence. Now we all know that rarely would police stop a builder or fisherman over their knife, so it would be fair to say that most of those arrested for possession of a controlled weapon are probably young persons, either with criminal intentions, or who carry weapons out of fear for their safety, and it is purely a self-defence measure. There is a very real issue that thousands of young persons live in fear on a daily basis, and if we can also tackle the problem of fear amongst some of these young people, the rates of knife carrying could also be reduced.
As well as the rates of carrying a concealed edged weapon, robberies carried out involving knives have also soared. Over time you might expect to see an increase, as population increases, though considering the high levels of knife crime already, over the past 10 years, ideally we would be hoping levels would begin to drop.
David Cameron, English Prime Minister, has long promoted a zero tolerance policy on knife crime. This is something which the current government has been working on for some time. To understand the latest statistics, especially the four out of five knife carriers escaping jail, careful reflection is needed. If we are to stop knives being carried, there truly must be a blanket ban, on knives over a certain length, and also the knife should be assessed to see if it is sharp, and intended for fatal purposes.
The statistics are quite clear and correlated from official government figures. They show that 5,466 persons were caught carrying an illegal knife between July and September 2011. Out of these 1,132 were jailed. A large number, 1,090, which accounts for around 20% of the total were given a caution. It could be presumed those given cautions were deemed to be low risk to the public.
From the total 1,686 were given a community sentence. Many others were given a suspended or deferred sentence. So there does not appear to be a one rule for all scenario, though each case will differ, and it is for the Judge to decide what is a just sentence, which Judges do on the whole very well in the UK.
Out of those who were jailed, around two-thirds were given a sentence of six months or less, which means out of the original number of 5,446 only around 350 were given a jail term of 6 months or more.
The most worrying revelation is that the number of robberies involving a knife is soaring with the number of attacks in 2011 up from 13,971 in 2010 to 15,313, according to the UK Home Office. This shows a 10 per cent rise in knife robberies. Knife robberies are at epidemic levels, and totally unacceptable. Dangerous knife carriers with intent to damage human life, through robbery, intimidation, and other means need to be dealt with.
Some have criticised the government for failing to implement a 2010 election manifesto pledge, in which the Conservatives vowed to jail EVERY person caught carrying a knife. The pledge was badly worded perhaps, and it was decided to look more closely and do something within the law. It was pointed out that some people need to carry a knife for work, ie builders, and some people buy knives to take home.
Many people believe that any carrying of a knife should be met with a long hard prison sentence, though there are many technicalities which mean that this kind of law is extremely difficult to tackle. It can be argued, quite rightly, that a builder needs a Stanley knife, someone fishing needs a knife, even someone going on a picnic. Where the law should and should not apply is a bit of a grey area (article to be updated with exact law).
The result has been a coalition government plan to bring in a new offence of aggravated knife crime, with a minimum six-month sentence. This is being looked at closely, to see if it is an effective, fair and straight forward plan of action to continue the fight against knife crime.
Back in 2008, after a spate of teenage stabbings, which included the murder of Ben Kinsella, brother of EastEnders actress Brooke, the public demanded that more be done to tackle the knife problems bringing fear to local communities. It appeared a portion young people were routinely carrying knives, and they were also being used to harm others. The knife culture amongst the UK youth had reached epidemic proportions.
Ann Oakes-Odger of Knifecrimes.org, a person who does much good and has previously been mentioned on our blog, has spoken on the latest statistics. Her son, Westley, 27, was stabbed to death at a cash machine in Colchester, 2005:
“My reaction is one of complete horror. It was through our lobbying that we achieved an increase in the maximum sentence for knife possession from two to four years.”
“Somebody with a weapon on our streets is potentially a murder waiting to happen.”
Simon Reed is vice-chairman of the Police Federation, who represent rank-and-file officers. He has expressed concerns that not enough is being done to catch offenders in the first place.
“There’s no point having tough sentences if the chances of being caught are low.”
Police are now receiving new equipment to easily allow a person to be scanned for a metal bladed object, and many retail centres are now actively pursuing anti-knife schemes to combat crime in urban areas. High visibility security often has the desired effect, as can posters and CCTV.