Growing up, knife crime has been a common feature in the news, almost making it feel normal. You’d read headlines like; ‘South London stabbing: Police find teenage boy stabbed to death’ and you don’t even bat an eyelid. The fact that this has become normal is a tragedy in itself. Our society is poisoned by pockets of disengagement which has contributed towards some people feeling like they have no choice but to carry a knife.
We could and probably should put more police on the streets but that wouldn’t eradicate the problem, it would merely manage it. It is not surprising that knife crime has surged in the UK once again, just like it wasn’t surprising 10 or 15 years ago, but this isn’t something that we should just accept, it should not become entrenched in our culture. The number of crimes related to knives and other offensive weapons has reached its highest level for nine years, with 21,484 offences since 2009. Of all those convicted or cautioned last year, a fifth were under 18. It’s especially frustrating to see so many young people embroiled in this crisis, because it shows a lack of hope and prosperity for those that should have their whole lives ahead of them.
In response to this, the BBC have released a documentary, presented by Duwayne Brookes that takes aim at the crisis. In 1993 Duwayne was waiting at a bus stop in Eltham with his friend Stephen Lawrence when they were attacked by a racist gang. Stephen was brutally stabbed to death. 25 years on, Duwayne wants to raise awareness for this issue by giving a personal insight into the current wave of knife crime and the impact that it has for the families and friends of the bereaved. The documentary gives a face, a voice and a realness to those who have been affected, which is powerful.
One family that Duwayne meets is that of 20-year-old DJ Nana Banger, who was stabbed by gatecrashers to a party where he was DJing. Nana Banger was stabbed in front of 100 potential witnesses and not one of them has come forward. Families like this are left without closure and without justice, which makes it impossible for them to even begin to deal with the trauma that they have been subjected to. This is just one story in isolation, but there are hundreds more like it every year.
Given the complexity of the issue, Duwayne also engages with knife crime offenders to understand why more young people are turning to knives. This part of the documentary gives us an opportunity to look at some possible solutions to the issue at hand. Dwayne learns about the Violence Reduction Unit which was set up by Strathclyde Police in 2005 to tackle rising crime levels, particularly in the city of Glasgow. The strategy of the unit is to target those who are at the highest risk of offending, which includes people that have just come out of prison as well as children who are excluded from school. In both cases, these individuals are vulnerable to becoming involved in criminal activity. This approach in Scotland has proved successful and though there is no easy fix to this crisis, it does show that opportunity creates choice, and this could save countless lives in the future.
No longer can we drive vulnerable people towards criminal activity or carrying a knife. We must show people that carrying a knife is a choice, not a necessity. This documentary comes off the back of one of our nations most deadly years and its importance should not be overlooked. Make sure you follow the link in the bibliography to watch it.
There have been more than 100 homicides in the UK in 2019 already, including 10 teenage stabbings. This must be addressed now.