'Urgent national debate' needed to address Britain's spiralling knife crime problem


Church Army CEO Mark Russell has called for an 'urgent national debate' to discuss ways to reduce knife crime after 10 teenagers were killed in stabbings in the first two months of 2019.

Five of the victims were in London, while another three were in Birmingham.  Two more were killed in Manchester and Sutherland. 

Mr Russell said that while there was 'no single answer' to Britain's knife crime problem, it was important to 'create positive alternative communities for young people to belong to'.

The number of attacks involving 'a knife or sharp instrument' had been falling steadily since 2011 before rising steeply again after 2015, Home Office figures reveal.  Between 2015/16 and 2016/17, England and Wales experienced a 19.6 per cent increase in attacks. 

At the same time, the number of police officers fell from over 140,000 in 2010 to just over 120,000 in 2018.

Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick said this week that she believed there was 'some link' between a rise in violent crime across the UK and falling numbers of police officers. 

'I agree that there is some link between violent crime on the streets obviously and police numbers, of course there is, and everybody would see that,' she said, adding that drugs were a factor in street violence.

Her comments to LBC Radio were in contrast to those of Prime Minister Theresa May, who said there was 'no direct correlation'. 

Responding to pressure over the rise in knife crime, Home Secretary Sajid Javid said he planned to meet with police chiefs. 

Former London Mayor Boris Johnson has called for a return to stop and search to bring the number of knife attacks down. 

'Stop & search is necessary to bring down knife crime. We need to be tough. We need to back our police. We need to change the odds in the minds of the kids who carry knives. And we can. We've done it before,' he tweeted.