National Comment Comment

It's time to get a handle on London knife crime

Knife crime rises in the nation's capital shouldn't inhibit people's daily lives, but preventative measures must be taken

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I was surprised to hear that the knife crime statistic in the capital had risen by 22 per cent over the last year. Nonetheless, given the unfortunate but frequent reports of knife-related incidents, it seems that some people are becoming accustomed to regular crime. I have had the experience of both living in York, arguably one of the safest cities in the UK, and living on the outskirts of London where crime can be rife. Hence, I find the discussion of how we can rectify rising knife crime very interesting.

A few years ago I had a friend. He was lovely, but relatively quiet. He kept his head down and got on with his work, but could occasionally be the target of jokes. Unfortunately, he sometimes suffered from anger issues. But he was kind. I hadn't heard anything about him for some time until two months ago, when a local newspaper from my hometown featured a report on him."19-year-old arrested for murder following fatal stabbing attack"; the report said. I refused to believe it at first. How could someone so kind and close to me do such a thing?

People are quick to blame video games for the rise in violent crime. Alas, I believe there is a much deeper issue here. To do such a thing as possess a threatening knife, let alone use it, requires a significant sentiment of anger or frustration. This is where the issue lies, and not necessarily with graphics on a screen. I firmly believe that reform can go a long way. Especially in cities such as London, making sure that every person has the correct support could result in fewer people relying on knives in moments of frustration. If my friend had received the correct support for his anger, he might have been free today. However, it does not feel apt for me to only mention the potential users of knives. What about the potential victims?

I asked my friend Emma who lives in East London how they feel about crime in the capital, and was intrigued by their response: "Crime in London is not as terrifying as everyone makes it out to be, in reality the chances are quite low compared to other cities like Chicago. While it is true that murder rates have gone up in the past year (with at least 50 cases this year), this is insignificant compared to the 650 homicide rates recorded last year in Chicago (USA Today: 2017)." It did confuse me to hear what Emma had to say, and yet it was almost settling. Among such horrid circumstances and recited statistics, I find it comforting to hear that people do not let the possibility of crime upset how they go about their daily lives. Wariness is understandable, but not going out of one's way due to fear on a daily basis.

It cannot be ignored that a man was recently stabbed on Walmgate, near the 'Student Castle' accommodation block, and a regular pedestrian route into York town centre, despite the reputation of York being one of the safest places to live. Perhaps then, in cases nationwide, there could be more effort to prove to the public that they are being protected. Following the incident, York Police have been more prevalent in the City and held an event that weekend where they would talk to residents about the policing going on in the local area. Perhaps this kind of system would be useful for cities such as London.

Whatever system will be implemented, I believe this article is summarised well by Emma: "People will still go on with their daily lives. I continue to walk down the busy Mile End Road late in the evening without fear." Let us hope that some progression is made in reducing these crime statistics over the coming years.

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