Dealing with knife crime

Posts here were moved here to help keep other topics on-topic.

Whilst the violent crime debate would normally belong in the opt-in General Politics category, we’ll allow this debate to continue pubicly on the condition that it remains friendly, non-partisan and constructive.

This could be of interest.

Will be preaching to the converted, I would have thought.

For those with an inclination against the Facebook, here are the details from the event page:


March 30 12-2.30pm at Kilmorie Primary School, Kilmorie Road, Forest Hill, SE23 2SP.

Come and listen to a story about two mothers, two sons and the devastating effects violence has on communities and families but also the hope that can be restored in Lewisham through this community project.

On the day there will be a chance to discuss what’s important in your area and if changes are required and RECLAIM your community with the support of the RECLAIM project. You will meet the team and enjoy some yummy cake and maybe even register your interest to volunteer.

It’s a Saturday so bring the kids to the friendly environment. There will be activities and Easter treats.

Please email for more information and to confirm your place.

March 30 12-2.30pm at Kilmorie Primary School, Kilmorie Road, Forest Hill, SE23 2SP.


[I realise this is a bit Grauniad BTL, but bear with me]

I just don’t buy the argument that more police and more after school clubs would somehow magically stop people stabbing each other. Both might, potentially, reduce the numbers a bit but this seems to me to be a cultural issue more than anything, where knife possession and use is normalised.

Clearly, a police presence on the streets might dissuade a person from attacking someone (or committing any other criminal offence) at that exact spot at that exact moment in time, but the police can’t be everywhere, no matter how much money you throw at recruitment etc.

Equally, after school clubs and giving potentially disenfranchised youths something to do outside of school other than roam around getting into trouble is clearly a good thing. But providing such outlets for aggression or whatever (or simply offering ways to engage their attention) doesn’t ensure they will go.

Obviously both things (increased police numbers and increased investment in after school clubs) can’t hurt. Indeed, the carrot (‘hey, here’s a nice football pitch and proper coaching for you guys to use instead of fighting each other’) and the stick (‘Look, there are loads of police around, properly empowered to stop and search - I’d better not carry a knife as if I’m caught, the Courts are now dishing out genuinely punitive sentences rather than community service orders’) certainly have a place in addressing the issue. Perhaps Sadiq can rethink his pledge to massively reduce Stop and Search?

But I just find it a struggle to believe that they would meaningfully address the problem. It’s far more deep-rooted than just being a bit a bored or feeling like you can act with impunity due to a reduced police presence.

It takes a pretty bizarre set of mental leaps to go from “I’m quite annoyed with this bloke, he disrespected me” to “Right, I’m going to pull out a knife and stab him with it, with intent to kill, in broad daylight, in a public place.”

My point is more that it’s very easy to point the finger at austerity, but that somewhat lets communities (and more specifically families) off the hook. Why do children (as these boys reportedly were) think it’s acceptable to both carry and use knives? I have a friend who’s a paramedic and she has some extraordinary stories about the sort of knife-related wounds she sees. She mentioned, for example, that it’s seen as a badge of honour to have scars caused by knife wounds to your arms or chest, so as a result, gangs have started approaching victims from behind and stabbing them in the rectum - the thinking being, there’s no kudos to be gained by carrying around a colostomy bag for the rest of your life. That is literally mind-boggling. No amount of investment from the Exchequer is going to curb that sort of warped thinking.

There are clearly no easy solutions, but I think it’s fair to say it will take a combination of approaches to address the issue: a keener deterrent (more police, properly empowered to stop and search; much longer sentences for the possession and use of knives), more incentives to stay on the straight and narrow (the provision of more community projects and after school activities etc) and better education / guidance (both from schools, but more importantly, families and communities.


Balanced and thought-provoking comment - thanks for sharing and welcome to the forum.

In other news, we could see a new approach taken from central govt:


Thank you @Skua, that was so well put - and I totally agree with you.

I’m afraid I’m not that good at getting things across but I would also say that I’m hearing a lot of do-gooders who are trying to justify these kids carrying knives because of some ‘deprivation’ of youth facilities and life chances. They need to listen to you!


I think there is a lot more to effective policing than acting only as a visual deterrent.

Having the resource to properly takle and dismantle the gangs and organised crime that are known to recruit and exploit vulnerable children would be one way policing could help.

They may not think it’s acceptable, but have been bribed, co-erced or threatened to become involved.

1 Like

But there is a link between poverty, reduction of social services (youth clubs, career counseling etc.) and knife crime. (see here, here and here)


In the local area there is a youth club ,after school activities as well as a library. Most schools have a councillor. To say there is nothing to do for youth is just not true. Poverty doesn’t mean you have to carry a knife for protection.

I don’t see any mention of parents though.

Lots of mention about government, police, lack of social services, but nothing on lack of parenting and personal responsibility.

The sooner people realise that they are responsible for their own actions, and consequences, the better as a society we will be.


Growing up, I had friends who were children of extremely low-income families. This did not seem to make them violent. They were peaceful people. They did not blame the government for their poverty. They did not blame others for their poverty. They did not violently attack others.

Perhaps their outlook would have been different if there was pervasive messaging telling these low-income families that their poverty was the fault of others.

Perhaps that messaging would have created resentment, and that resentment would have led to violence.


Is a 14 or 15 year old responsible for their own actions?

@Londondrz post actually focussed on the parents.

But yes, I believe a 14/15 year old should accept some responsibility for his picking up a knife and stabbing someone.

If 14/15 year olds are abdicated of all personal responsibility for their own violence, I think society could end up in a dark place.

I was, I am sure you were.

Fabulous. Let’s assume Chris was as well so that make three people. Being representative of society as we are I think we can make some strong conclusions here.


Skua notes the complexity of the issue and hints at the inter-connectivity of some of it root causes. Sure, it’s easy to point the finger at austerity. It’s also easy to point the finger at the parents. The truth probably lies somewhere in between and a mix of issues.

Sadly I doubt this issue will ever be handled in a meaningful manner as long as we lead with our politics and ignore our cognitive biases.

1 Like

Greta Thunberg seems to have done well for a 15 year old. Malala Yusafzai seems to have achieved the same. Let’s put our world into context against the one Malala came from. Bit different and yet youth still feel they need to carry a knife??


Firstly sympathy to the victim of yesterday’s stabbing and his family and friends. Commiseration also to all those who witnessed this event. I think it is important at this time to remember that ,depressing and difficult though it is to know what to do : and your previous thoughtful discussion has highlighted the different aspects that have led us to yesterday, there are solutions, things we can do. The Forest Hill community contains many vocal and caring people who have worked together before. We can work together again on this. Our community pollice, schools and youth organisations all have a role to play and we must support them and press for more support for them all.
Margot Wilson

1 Like

Shall we waste our time by picking random examples? Okay. I’ll play your game. I’ll take your Greta and your Malala and raise you child soldiers.

Or perhaps we should exclude guns from this discussion. No doubt you’ll be wanting to move this to ethikos anyways.


A very important point. Particularly with complicated issues we need to step back and understand where we, as a community, can affect the biggest change. @Andrei notes one area, where this could be achieved. Communities can, through their influence on councils or through charity, increase access to youth services. Recognizing that these have a positive influence on our young people, particularly those most at risk is a way forward. It should not ignore other contributing factors, but I would suggest that community has less influence on those matters.

I’ll be interested to hear more at the RECLAIM event on Saturday if I can make it.

Starman, thank you for your example. You may notice in the case of Malala I pointed our the difference as per my comment on context.

If you feel a child in a war torn country is representative of a child in the UK then the UK must be a terrible place for kids. I should worry about my own I think.