Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 August 2019

British government takes tougher stance on knife crime after stabbings

Four separate knife attacks in north London on Saturday are thought to be linked

Police on the scene of a stabbing in Edmonton on March 31 in London, England. Four people were stabbed in London over the weekend. Getty 
Police on the scene of a stabbing in Edmonton on March 31 in London, England. Four people were stabbed in London over the weekend. Getty 

After a spate of stabbings took place in London over the weekend, the British government is taking a tougher stance on knife crime, increasing police powers to stop and search and establishing new interventions to stop kids being groomed by gangs.

There were four knife attacks carried out in north London on Saturday night, shortly before Downing Street was due to host a summit on knife crime. The attacks, which injured a woman and three men, are thought to be carried out by a lone male suspect.

On Monday, the British home secretary, Sajid Javid, announced a consultation to ensure that public bodies, including hospitals, raise concerns about children becoming risk of becoming involved in knife crime.

The new multi-agency, ‘public health duty’, looks to spot the warning signs that a young person could be in danger, such as going to a medical facility with a suspicious injury or concerning behaviour at school.

Such changes could mean that medical professionals, teachers and the police will soon have a legal obligation to act if they suspect someone is being lured into knife crime.

Similar approaches have been used in Scotland and Wales to support young people and make targeted interventions before they commit violence or are groomed by gangs.

Knife crime across England and Wales has been on the rise since 2014, according to figures from the UK Home Office. There were nearly 40,000 knife offences committed last year compared to nearly 25,000 in 2014.

Prime Minister Theresa May said: “To bring about lasting change and protect young people from the tragic violence we have seen on our streets, we need to work across society to intervene early and stop them from being drawn into crime.”

Mrs May will also meet the families of a number of victims to listen to their first-hand experiences of this issue.

Over 100 experts, including the Children’s Commissioner, Anne Longfield, the Met Commissioner, Cressida Dick, charity leaders and Chair of the Youth Justice Board Charlie Taylor, will explore the scope and impact of new ideas to tackle knife crime.

On Sunday, police across England and Wales were given more power to stop and search people with “reasonable suspicion” in an attempt to tackle knife crime.

Mr Javid said that he was making it easier for officers to impose a Section 60 order, which allows them to search anyone in an area where serious violence is expected.

Some campaigners are critical of police having more powers to stop and search people without adequate reason because they say the technique has not shown to be effective. Others say that the method could be misused to target black people.

But Mr Javid said: "The police are on the front line in the battle against serious violence and it's vital we give them the right tools to do their jobs."

The change is being trialled in seven police force areas where more than 60 per cent of knife crime occurs, including in London, the West Midlands, Merseyside, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, South Wales and Greater Manchester.

Updated: April 1, 2019 09:11 AM