Knife Crime in the UK
This month we dedicate our monthly blog post to
all the victims of knife crime across the UK.
Over recent weeks and months, we have seen on our TV screens, newspapers, social media feeds and the like, a rise in the number of knife attacks in our capital. More recently the attention has turned to other such attacks in other cities up and down the UK.
We are saddened by the stories that we see on our screens mostly such young lives taken, from what we see in the media, for absolutely no reason at all. If we take the story of Jodie Chesney, who was sitting with her group of friends in a park, listening to music and ‘enjoying life’ when a male came up behind her and stabbed her in the back.
Only on Monday, did we see a news interview for ITV in Liverpool, 2 brothers openly told a reporter that they carry a knife and feel safer for doing so, 1 even took his knife from his jacket and showed it to the camera. Yes, these boys’ faces were hidden, but this is an all too familiar story the media are giving us. The same reporter spoke to the boys’ mother, who in simple terms said that she was ok with her boys carrying knives as it made her feel safe that they felt safe. When asked if she considered that she was encouraging her boys to break the law, she said she didn’t feel that, and that it’s better for her boys to come home of an evening than not.
So, this month we thought we would take a look at the rise of knife crime in the UK and see if the statistics support the media view that the UK is indeed in the middle of a rise in crimes involving knives, as well as what a member of the public can do to help someone who has been stabbed by a sharp object.
Is knife crime on the rise?
To help us explore this very question we have looked at the statistics released by the Office for National Statistics.
The statistics in the year up to September 2018, show a total of 42,957 offences involving a knife or a sharp object in England and Wales, equating to 6% of all offences. If we compare this with the previous year, we see 38,171 offences that involved a knife or a sharp object, in that year this also equates to 6% of all offences in England and Wales.
From these statistics we can see that the overall percentage of knife crime across the UK is staying constant at 6%, however individual cases have risen by 4,786 in one year.
What we thought we would do at this point is to take a look at the area of the country that keeps hitting the news, London, as well as coming closer to home and look at the 2 counties we primarily cover with our courses, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.
October 2016 – September 2017: 13,741
October 2017 – September 2018: 14,847
October 2016 – September 2017: 280
October 2017 – September 2018: 308
October 2016 – September 2017: 295
October 2017 – September 2018: 243
What we can see from the local authority areas is that the national rise is certainly occurring in London and Gloucestershire, but actually decreasing in Wiltshire, with a decrease of 18% from the previous year. Gloucestershire’s knife crime has increased by more than that of London in one year up 10% compared to London’s 8%. It will be very interesting to see the 2018/19 statistics when they are released later this year to see how the statistics have changed.
If we look take a look through the years in the statistics, we do see a rise in knife crime statistics since the low point of 2014, of 23,945.
So far in this blog we have used the word offences to explore what’s happening across the country. It may be worth having a look into the word offences and find out which offences knives are being used for. Here we look at the statistics across the UK, then London, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire ending September 2018.
England and Wales:
Attempted Murder: 356,
Threats to Kill: 3,351,
Assault with injury: 19,761,
Rape and Sexual assault: 657,
Attempted Murder: 68,
Threats to Kill: 747,
Assault with injury: 5.360,
Rape and Sexual assault: 161,
Attempted Murder: 3,
Threats to Kill: 39,
Assault with injury: 173,
Rape and Sexual assault: 6,
Attempted Murder: 0,
Threats to Kill: 19,
Assault with injury: 164,
Rape and Sexual assault: 3,
As expected, we can see that London has far more incidents of knife crime across all of the areas that the statistics look at, however it would appear that Wiltshire is safer in these areas than London and Gloucestershire.
Why do people carry knives?
There are understandable reasons why some people carry knives; these people do so for their profession, e.g. carpet fitters, plastic cutters etc, but of course these people are not likely to be the ones who are contributing to the statistics above.
The more important question to be asked should be why more and more young people are coming to think that carrying a knife is a good idea. Some suggestions for this include:
- For protection, self-defence, in case they are attacked and need to protect themselves,
- To make them feel like the ‘top-dog’ on their estate,
- To make people respect them,
- Feel that they can push themselves up the social ladder,
- Being brought up in a house/environment where carrying a knife is acceptable,
- They are cheap and easy to get hold of,
- They are not able to have a fist fight and therefore need a weapon to back them up,
- Their own mental safety, if I carry a knife, I feel safe,
- Instil fear in others,
- Peer pressure,
- Being forced to carry a knife by older gang members, as the police won’t suspect a 7-year-old.
What does the law say about carrying a knife?
Legislation in England and Wales says that carrying a knife can earn an adult 4 years’ imprisonment and an unlimited fine; should that knife be used to commit a crime the sentences are likely to be a lot higher than this.
What can you do if you know someone carries a knife?
If you know that someone carries a knife, whether this be a friend, brother, father, uncle, son or daughter etc, you should remember that it is a criminal offence. Just because someone else carries a knife does not make it right or okay for another person to do so, even if it is a trusted person, it is still a criminal offence.
If you know someone who carries a knife, we have provided a few tips that you can use to know what you can do:
- Never think that you can talk to the person and persuade them to stop carrying,
- If possible, you should report this to the police, do not think of this as grassing up a friend or loved one, potentially you are saving theirs or someone else’s life!
- If you live with someone who carries a knife, try not to irritate or annoy them as you won’t know what they are capable of,
- Do not try to take the knife off a child or young person, as it is likely to anger the person and may escalate the situation out of control.
Should you be in a situation where you feel threatened or at-risk from somebody who is carrying a knife, you should try to walk away, do not run as you may fall over, and try to get to the nearest safest possible place, around other people. Do not think that you will be able to negotiate with the person holding the knife, the best thing to do is to walk away and report the incident as soon as you possibly can. The best piece of advice would be to try to avoid situations and people who scare or bully you and make sure that you report it.
What should I do to help someone who has been stabbed by a sharp object?
The most important thing that a member of the public can do for someone who has been injured by a sharp object is to ensure that they themselves stay safe. If you are unable to approach the casualty as the attacker is still on the scene or likely to be, the best thing that can be done is to call the emergency services and report the incident, not forgetting to mention you believe that there is a sharp object involved.
If you are able to approach the casualty, remember that you may only see a small entry wound, which could have deep internal damage hiding under the skin. This is what you should do for the casualty:
1. Call 999/112 for emergency help and make sure it is safe to approach.
2. Control life-threatening bleeding as a priority:
i. Apply direct pressure to the exact point of bleeding, if needed inside the deep wound,
ii. For life-threatening bleeding to the limbs – consider a tourniquet (see tourniquet section of this blog!).
3. Treat the casualty for hypovolaemic shock – lie them down, elevate their legs.
What is a tourniquet?
A tourniquet is a device that is tightened around a limb to temporarily reduce blood flow. In recent military conflicts tourniquets have saved many lives and have been reintroduced into the European Resuscitation Council First Aid Guidelines as of the 15th October 2015.
Complications can occur should a tourniquet not be applied correctly, therefore training is essential to make sure application is safe and effective. If a tourniquet is not tightened enough, which is usually the case with improvised tourniquets, they can squash the veins not the arteries that feed blood into the limbs, therefore continuing to bleed out, or make it even worse.
A tourniquet should be reserved for life-threatening
bleeding from an arm and leg that cannot be controlled by direct pressure.
How to apply a tourniquet:
1. Apply the tourniquet around the thigh or the upper arm, at least 5cm above the wound, If the injury is below the knee/elbow, apply it just above the knee/elbow joint.
2. Tighten the tourniquet until the bleeding is no longer life-threatening. This is painful for the casualty. Explain that the pain will subside, but it is necessary to save their life!
3. If the bleeding is not fully controlled, consider direct pressure to the point of bleeding or a haemostatic dressing. Sometimes you may even need to apply a second tourniquet.
4. Make sure that 999/112 have been contacted.
5. Note the exact time of application and make sure that you pass this vital information to medical staff. Write the time on the tourniquet if possible.
What if the object is still in the wound?
An embedded object should not be removed, unless it is a splinter, as it may be stemming bleeding or further damage may result.
As a first-aider you should use sterile dressings and bandages to pack around the object. This will apply pressure around the wound and support the object.
Send the casualty to hospital to have the object removed safely.
In summary, yes, the statistics have shown that knife crime has risen since the low in 2014, but the more important message from us in this blog is to remember that the carrying of an offensive weapon is against the law.
For more information on First Aid techniques to help a casualty
who has been injured by a sharp object,
why not join one of our First aid courses?
But most of all stay safe.
Dedicated to all the victims of knife crime across the UK.