We Need to Talk about Knife Crime – Conservative Article
Between 2017 and 2018, there have been 285 homicides committed where the offender used a sharp object. This amounts to 39% of homicides in the UK and shows a rise as compared to previous years. Even considering this year, in the midst of a pandemic, the lockdown didn’t manage to safeguard us from the issue. We had two very recent cases – a stabbing in Reading and Glasgow in the space of a few weeks. Naturally, it’s irrational to ban knives. However, I generally believe that one should be able to defend themselves if needs be.
But we need to look further into the core of the issue. What makes people actually commit these crimes? Is there anything we can do to stop them? What are the available solutions?
The core issue here is most often deteriorating mental health, poor upbringing, and poverty. So the only way to erase the issue is to look at these elements. However, we also need to be honest in our assessment. For example, the Reading stabbing was committed by someone, who has already been on the radar of MI5.
This may be a very conservative opinion, but I do believe that in order to ensure the safety of our nation we need to be more selective about who we allow into this country. This seems to be a controversial topic, however, we need to consider reality. Proper background checks should be done prior to allowing anyone the entry to this country. The sentences should be longer for people who want to or have terrorised our country.
This especially rings true in regard to the Glasgow stabbing. Home Office failed to carry out mental health assessment prior to relocating the asylum seekers into the hotel. This meant that people who suffered trafficking in the past and pregnant women were put alongside people with dangerous mental health issues. This was negligence which should have been resolved at the time.
No knife crime is ever the same, though. When looking at knife crimes in London alone (where the majority of stabbings occur), two-thirds of knife possession offenders were those of ethnic minority. But looking at all of the UK in general, we can see that it accounts for only 38%. It would be silly to just focus on immigration and make it the culprit. The majority of the knife crimes were committed by white people, aside from London.
There’s certainly a connection between crimes and the family unit. As confirmed in the research conducted by California Polytechnic State University (2010), it is lack of supervision and lack of maternal attachment which can lead to criminal behaviour. ‘If the child has insufficient supervision and a lack of interest in school, they were found to participate more in deviant acts’ reads the research paper. This can be resolved by ensuring that the child has got appropriate supervision and access to adult role-models.
Deteriorating mental health is a massive factor when looking at crime rates. Children from poorer environments are more likely to engage in violence and crimes. Alcohol and drug abuse is also often a factor. This is not something we should brush off. People need assistance.
There are different ways of handling the issue and I’m sceptical regarding the way it is being handled. In 2019, Sajid Javid proposed that we need stronger sentences for knife possession, he also suggested curfews and boundaries. This could work short-term but it wouldn’t solve the actual issue. Academics propose focusing on more social ways of dealing with it, such as diverting children from toxic environments and investing in youth services.
As a Conservative, I believe that the drive here should be to ensure that children have attentive parents, focusing on the family unit again and providing an incentive for people to get married. This seems to work in Poland, where the family unit is at the core. I believe that education also has a great impact on young people. They need to be inspired and interested in what they’re doing but this depends on their parents and teachers.
Knife crime isn’t something that will disappear overnight. It may take years to solve and the government should be taken all the precautions in order to ensure that the statistics go down. Better screening for people immigrating to the UK, incentivising the family unit, as well as improving the education system in the country is required.
Written by Guest Conservative Writer, Dinah Kolka
Point of Information
Accusing immigrants to be the reason for increased knife crime is outrageous – a Liberal response
I have spent an awful lot of my time since starting POI looking into knife crime. It was my first article and has been the basis for a multitude of studies. For Dinah to put the blame for the increase in knife crime at the feet of immigrants and ‘family unit’ makes me want to bang my head against the table.
She firstly has picked out two cases involving immigrants; a massive statistical anomaly and used that as the basis of her whole claim. Glasgow was known as the ‘knife crime capital’ of the world. These crimes were committed by mainly white, English born males. She has simply pointed to two cases and gone ‘immigrants are the problem’. If anything I think this shows we need to provide more support for asylum seekers. People like Badreddin Abdalla Adam have had horrible experiences. They require mental support, something I think anyone with a moral compass would agree with.
This is not to mention that the biggest terrorist threat to the UK in terms of people on MI5’s caution list is now mainly English born far-right white supremacists, mainly due to claims that Dinah is making.
Accounting for much more than 90%, knife carriers are British born, not immigrants. The reason for ethnic minorities’ decision to carry knives is their growing distrust of the police. With the rise in stop and searches, police will unfortunately stop and target ethnic minorities. No matter your opinion, that will happen. If you treat people like criminals because of their race, they’re going to turn their backs on you. It is why there is so much anger from the BLM movement towards the police. They do not trust them, and so have taken their protection into their own hands. That is why we have seen knife crime increase.
A tough family unit is important as well, but single parents can do just as, if not better than having two parents. In fact, I would argue this is very much the case. You can have a strong family unit with one parent. The reason why we have seen the increase in crime in poorer areas is austerity. After school programs have been cut and exclusion rates from schools has drastically increased in recent years. They are not receiving the help or support they need.
A strong family unit is not the problem for increasing knife crime either. The amount of children with both parents present is rising, but knife crime is too. People can have two parents, live in a dysfunctional family with no family unity, and still decide to not pick up a knife. The cause for increased knife crime is not family, it is austerity. It plays a part, but family life will never 100% be perfect and neither will knife crime disappear if it was.
When the government has given up on you; when the police treat you like a criminal; and when you have articles like this blaming knife crime on immigrants who may only have one parent, it seems the whole world expecting you to pick up a knife, why wouldn’t you?!
Written by Liberal Writer, Max Anderson
Abandoned sections of society being judged by those who abandoned them – a Labour response
I have to agree with my Liberal colleague; incorporating immigration into an explanation of increasing knife crime is factually incorrect and is a wildly derogatory narrative. Furthermore, the claim that family will be the saving grace of our urban centres when read in conjunction with the anti-immigration stance points to a vastly incorrect view of why our society faces the problems it does.
Ultimately knife-related crime boils down to a few key factors. The first of these is accessibility; knives are a common household item, so, therefore, are very easy to pick up and take out onto the streets. This we can do little about.
Secondly, there is a severe lack of education both about the damage a knife can inflict and the nature of being armed itself. The reason behind an individual choosing to carry a knife as has been suggested by both my colleagues is a feeling of insecurity. However, what we need to be doing is getting into the education system and teaching the younger generations that carrying a knife actually increases your chances of serious injury.
In principle, I agree with the idea Dinah suggested about people needing support. However, it is the Tory government, who once promised parity of esteem for mental and physical health, who have cut the budgets of half the NHS mental health trusts. Moreover, there are wider socio-economic issues behind violent youth crime that must be addressed.
The example of Glasgow has been discussed and I would like to carry on with this train of thought. Glasgow managed to reduce hospital admission for slashes and stabs in 2016-17 by 65%. A monumental achievement by all accounts. Glasgow achieved this by adopting a holistic approach.They identified that the highest rate areas for knife-related violence were also the poorest. A fairly predictable conclusion. But, then why does Dinah think that merely having ‘attentive parents’ will solve these clearly economic issues?
There are many studies that suggest poverty can account for up to a temporary 13 point IQ reduction. Additionally, there are studies which link IQ, risk assessment and decision making. What this suggests is that the negative effects of poverty are significant enough to hinder rational decision making.
I think saying that violent youth crime can be halted by parents watching their kids fails to acknowledge the mental and financial strain austerity has placed on low income and impoverished families. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that they tackle the economic disparity in this country and start helping people in poverty. Education and economic support for low-income households will reduce violent youth crime, passing the burden to parents and anti-immigrant sentiments will not.
Written by Guest Labour Writer, Henry McKeever
My name is Dinah Kolka and I am going into the first year of Journalism at Napier University in Edinburgh. Recently, I graduated from Edinburgh College with an HNC in Media and Communications. This ignited my interest in politics and journalism.
I am currently in my second year of reading Politics at the University of Exeter. My first interaction with politics was at the tender age of four years old.
I am entering the third year of a BA in History and Ancient History at the University of Exeter. I have a fascination with the past otherwise and you would hope so, otherwise I may have chosen the wrong degree. But, writing for POI gives me the opportunity to talk politics which is something I simply can’t avoid.