We’ve spent a little bit of this year supporting the family of a knife attack victim (nothing very much, just looking after the nephew a couple of times, and searching out the details of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme); so this morning’s depressing (but perhaps not surprising) news that knife amnesties don’t seem to have a long term impact on knife crime hit home with me.
It is likely (but not certain) the pan-London operation, including the knife amnesty, which ran in the MPS area from 15-May-2006 to 9-Jul-2006 produced a reduction in offence levels of approximately 219 offences, which is very approximately 1 .7% of annual offence levels .
Reductions in MPS Knife-Enabled offences started 5-weeks into the operation, and then continued for approximately 8-weeks (which is 6 weeks beyond the end of the operation) before returning to pre-operation levels .
This research from earlier in the year sets out the evidence and policy on knife crime and isn’t complementary, suggesting there isn’t coherence in the strategies being pursued. The paper has this to say about knife amnesties:
Essentially, knife amnesties address but one tool of expression of interpersonal violence and they do nothing to address the underlying causes of such violence. Thus they do not affect either those who retain their knives believing it might be necessary to use them nor those who pick up a knife on the spur of the moment in anger or fear.
What the research doesn’t seem to consider is whether amnesties have an impact on our fear of crime.
An earlier report called Fear and Fashion looked at the use of knives and weapons by young people and made the following recommendations:
Since the problem is growing and since there are few dedicated public or educational awareness programmes or dedicated programmes to work with young people at risk of carrying and using knives, and there are relatively few examples of good practice, the key priorities for action are:
- developing local demonstration programmes and activities
- developing good practice materials for schools, youth clubs, youth offending teams and the police
- promoting and disseminating good practice materials and examples.
The homicide section of the Metropolitan Police’s Specialist Crime Directorate is conducting a review of knife crime and young people.
Faced with rising numbers of murders committed by young people using knives, the unit has been asked to take a fresh look at the situation, and see if the police can do more to prevent crimes occurring.
The second reports:
A £1m knife crime prevention scheme is to launch across London next year. The drive aims to address the capital’s problem of rising murders by young people with knives.
Some of that money will be spent in South East London. I hope that the Lewisham Crime Reduction Partnership will be trying to learn all it can from the outcomes.