Solving knife crime needs diverse approaches

knifefreeThere are many challenges facing our society and having observed the crime scene for a knife based high profile murder last weekend it is understandable how the issue is appearing to impact communities across the UK. However in reality whilst there are some specific, mainly urban settings where gang violence involving guns and knifes is impacting large cities, there are other parts of our nation that needs a very different approach. In terms of how some new ideas (or old ones being revisited) are being promoted, this Children and Young People Now article is very helpful. However they are understandably focusing on settings where knife crime is at very high levels. The reality is that in many other settings where the knife based crime levels are relatively low, a very different approach is needed. A few months ago I took part in a discussion regarding an example of how one young person, having enjoyed a beach BBQ where they had taken a fork and short but sharp knife to cut the meat they enjoyed had then been identified as having the knife in their bag as they went on to their next activity, even though they committed no crime and they did not remove the knife. In the discussion I was part of it was revealed that the person ended up with a caution which means they have been added to the criminal justice system with a record that could impact their life for some time to come. Some of the people involved in the discussion argued this person deserved a more substantial punishment and some of us that the person deserved to be offered a non criminal outcome. As we argued our point, it was revealed that a restorative justice approach regarding the handling of knives demands that the Home Secretary personally must sign off any such arrangement. This has two question marks or concerns. The first is that police officers where they would ideally take a restorative justice approach, know that approaching the Home Office is a waste of their time when knifes are involved and so they fall back onto using the criminal justice system, even if this is going to damage the people concerned and fail to do anything to protect society in the long term. The second is the idea that when it comes to such criminal acts, that the Home Secretary who has no exposure to such matters on the Coast of Sussex is more competent in such matters than a Police Superintendent, Inspector or even a Police Sergeant is very disturbing. He of course has plenty of data available to him, but restorative justice demands local understanding too. I am delighted to read about the work of youth advocates programme as they seek to help deal with the huge numbers of young people under pressure in London Boroughs and settings such as Manchester, Liverpool and other large cities. However we need a very different approach in other parts of the UK!

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
This entry was posted in Community Safety, Justice Issues, Parliament and Democracy, Policing, Youth Issues and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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