Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 21 October 2019

Britain faces ‘national emergency’ of knife crime

Home secretary Sajid Javid says the situation 'cannot go on'

Police forces are asking for more assistance to tackle knife crime. EPA
Police forces are asking for more assistance to tackle knife crime. EPA

Online fundraisers for victims of youth stabbings were flooded with donations on Monday as British officials appeal for the public to help them stop a rise in killings.

Police have called on neighbours to expose suspects to reduce knife crime on Britain’s streets after two high-profile deaths sparked a wave of sympathy.

The number of children aged 16 and under being treated for stab wounds has increased by 93 per cent over five years.

Politicians tried to publicise the extent of the problem last week and West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson called it a national emergency.

In Birmingham, three teenagers have died from knife attacks in the past two weeks.

An online crowdfunding drive for Yousef Makki, 17, who was killed near Manchester last weekend, has raised more than £13,000 in 21 hours.

Mr Makki, whose mother is English and father is thought to be Lebanese, was a gifted student who hoped to become a surgeon. Two other teenagers have been arrested in connection with the stabbing.

Jodie Chesney, also 17, was murdered in a park in east London on Friday. Police are seeking two men in connection with the incident, in which she was stabbed in the back.

"How have we come to this point where kids can't have a walk in a park without suffering an unprovoked attack?" her grandmother Debbie Chesney wrote on Facebook.

Ms Chesney appealed for the public to hand over any information to police.

West Midlands Police has launched a campaign to educate parents on speaking to their children about gang violence and knife crime.

The life or knife campaign gives parents tips on how to identify if their child could be part of a gang and how to talk to them about knife crime.

The UK’s Home Secretary Sajid Javid defended his government, saying action was being taken to reduce knife crime.

"We're taking action on many fronts," Mr Javid said. "It is vital that we unite to stop this senseless violence. Young people are being murdered across the country. It can't go on."

He introduced knife crime prevention orders in January.

“The problem is, nobody is responding to this as if it is a national crisis," Louise Casey, a former government social policy adviser, told Channel 4 news.

Ms Casey criticised the government and police for failing to work on prevention rather than punishment, particularly given that children who are expelled from school are 200 times more likely to be part of a gang.

“In all of the families where we know we have a gang member, why are we not knocking their door down with help?" she asked.

Last year the government launched a consultation on serious violence and created a £200 million (Dh970m) youth endowment fund.

A bill making its way through Parliament aims to introduce more measures to curb knife crime and acid attacks.

Mr Javid will meet police chiefs and experts on Wednesday.

Updated: March 5, 2019 01:57 AM

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