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Author Topic: Knife Crimes Soar  (Read 1215 times)

Hock

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Knife Crimes Soar
« on: January 16, 2006, 04:55:19 PM »

The Sunday Times October 23, 2005 (United Kingdom)

Knife crime figures soar in counties
Will Iredale
 
KNIFE crime in England and Wales has leapt by as much as 90% in two years in some areas, according to new police data.
The steepest rises have been recorded by county forces outside the biggest cities. The figures, released under the Freedom of Information act and covering 2002-04, show a total of nearly 25,000 knife crimes last year logged by the 30 police forces that supplied the figures.
 
Areas with the biggest rises include Devon and Cornwall, Lincolnshire and Bedfordshire — all of which also saw steep increases in overall violence. The highest rise in knife crime was recorded by Nottinghamshire police. There, offences involving blades went up from 338 in 2002 to 650 last year — a rise of 92%. Last year there were 223 muggings using knives in the county, a rise of 43% since 2002.

While many forces claim the figures are evidence of better policing and the seizure of more people carrying knives, they also point to the growing tendency of young criminals to go out carrying weapons — which can often be kitchen knives.

“The figures give an indication of the reality of the situation we are facing. Lots and lots of people are carrying knives in public places,” said Tony Melville, assistant chief constable of Devon and Cornwall and spokesman on knife crime for the Association of Chief Police Officers. “In many parts of society it now seems to be a credible and normal thing to carry a knife.”

Evidence of a growth in stabbings bears out anecdotal evidence from hospital doctors, who said this weekend that the number of patients with stab wounds arriving in accident and emergency wards had increased markedly over the past three years.

John Heyworth, a consultant at Southampton General hospital and president of the British Association for Accident and Emergency Medicine, said: “We have seen a significant rise in the number of patients attending hospitals with knife-related injuries over the last two to three years, and that is affecting hospitals across the country.”

In Nottinghamshire the force said some criminals may be choosing knives rather than guns because of higher mandatory sentences for possession of firearms. Gun crime in the county has fallen by 30% in the past year.

At present, carrying a knife with a blade longer than 3inches can lead to a four-year prison term or a fine. This contrasts with illegal possession of firearms, which carries a jail term of 5-10 years.

Documents from some of the forces provide an insight into the nature of individual knife crimes.

In Northamptonshire, for example, a child was caught at school hiding a knife in his bag; a man required more than 40 stitches after being stabbed in the back of the head; and a mugger held a six-inch blade to a woman’s throat asking: “Do you want your throat wetting?”

Although there have been individual studies of knife crime, the new figures are the most detailed released.

Nationally, they show a fall of 4% from 2002 to 2004, when there were 24,583 knife crimes. Much of this reduction was caused by an 8% fall in London because of the concentration of resources in an initiative called Operation Blunt.

However, in Devon and Cornwall police saw knife-related incidents rise 41% from 108 in 2002 to 152 last year and Lincolnshire saw a 24% increase, including 16 incidents over the same period involving knives at schools.

The most serious of those was in 2003, when Luke Walmsley, 14, was stabbed to death at the Birkbeck school in North Somercotes. A fellow pupil, Alan Pennell, 16, was convicted of the murder and received a life sentence.

The growing use of weapons by children was highlighted last week when Shanni Naylor, 12, needed 40 stitches after her face was slashed with a pencil sharpener blade during a class at Myrtle Springs School in Sheffield.

Recent studies have shown that there has been an increase in the number of knives being taken to school. According to a study by the Youth Justice Board, 300,000 of the country’s 10m pupils regularly carry such weapons in school.

The problem prompted Charles Clarke, the home secretary, to publish proposals in June as part of a bill on violent crime. They give headteachers power to search children they suspect of having weapons. In addition, under-18s will no longer be able to buy knives.

CUTTING NUMBERS

Areas with highest knife crime increases

Nottinghamshire: 2002-338; 2004-650; Rise 92%

Bedfordshire: 2002-79; 2004-113; Rise 43%

Devon & Cornwall: 2002-108; 2004-152; Rise 41%

Lincolnshire: 2002-402; 2004-497; Rise 24%
 

For more related info, see:
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2005/06/27110255/02566
« Last Edit: January 16, 2006, 05:07:56 PM by HockHoch@aol.com »
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