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Knife Crime and Serious Youth Violence

What is knife crime?

Knife crime is a term commonly used in the media to refer to street-based knife assaults and knife-carrying.

There are many different criminal offences relating to knives and offensive weapons. Offences include:

  • carrying a knife in a public place without good reason
  • using any knife in a threatening way
  • carrying, buying or selling any type of banned knife such as a stealth knife, baton, disguised knife, zombie knife
  • selling a knife of any kind to anyone under 18-years-old.

Anyone carrying a knife or a gun, even an imitation one, will be arrested and prosecuted. It is no excuse in UK legislation to say it was for protection or they were carrying it for someone else.

Why is knife crime increasing?

Hospital admissions for under 18s who had been assaulted by a sharp object increased by 20% between 2015/2016 and 2016/2017.

The Office for National Statistics crime survey for England and Wales for the year ending March 2018, reported there were 4,500 knife and offensive weapon crimes committed by children aged between 10 and 17 years. This accounted for 21% of the total number of knife and offensive weapon crimes in England and Wales. These statistics only take into consideration the number of offences that resulted in a caution or conviction. 

There are many reasons why young people say they carry a weapon, including: 

  • pressure from peers to be in a gang 
  • living in poverty and deprived areas 
  • how they are brought up, the fears of violence that are echoed by people around them, including both family and friends
  • a perceived feeling of power for the young person 
  • for protection due to feeling unsafe in their neighbourhood or community 
  • normalisation as everyone else is carrying weapons.

The most dangerous time for children when associating it to risk, is between 4pm and 9pm after leaving school.

Serious Youth Violence and KCSIE 2019

The new guidance states:

“All staff should be aware of indicators, which may signal that children are at risk from, or are involved with serious violent crime. These may include increased absence from school, a change in friendships or relationships with older individuals or groups, a significant decline in performance, signs of self-harm or a significant change in wellbeing, or signs of assault or unexplained injuries. Unexplained gifts or new possessions could also indicate that children have been approached by, or are involved with, individuals associated with criminal networks or gangs. 

“All staff should be aware of the associated risks and understand the measures in place to manage these.”

What is serious violence?

The Serious Violence Strategy, which was introduced by the government in 2018, identifies offences such as homicides and knife and gun crime as key factors which account for around one per cent of all recorded crime. The impact of serious violent crime on individuals and the community is significant.

Tackling serious violence is not a law enforcement issue alone; it requires a multiple-strand approach involving a range of partners across different sectors.

The main areas that the Serious Violence Strategy focuses on are:

  • tackling county lines
  • early intervention and prevention
  • supporting communities and local partnerships
  • effective law enforcement and the criminal justice response.

Why do schools need training on knife crime and serious violence?

Our Pastoral Care Expert, Dawn Jotham commented:

“Early intervention is about recognising and responding to the indicators of potential vulnerability, providing early support that is effective. When a young person begins to show the signs of exploitation or vulnerability to exploitation, and therefore at increased risk from Serious Violence, we should be able to intervene as early as possible to help reduce the risk factors and increase the protective factors”.