The Home office has produced recent figures showing violent crime has increased by 19% in England and Wales in 2018. Within that the number of homicides including murder and manslaughter rose by 14%.
The Chairman of the Police Federation, John Apter stated “society just isn’t as safe as it once was, and although the police service is doing everything within its power, we are swimming against the tide and it is the public who are being let down”. To understand this comment the concept of ‘postcode wars’ must be considered.
This phrase was originally popular in 2010/11; the meaning is to represent the location in the country you are from, some consider this a hierarchy. For example, if you are from South London you are considered well-spoken and cultured than your counterparts in North London or Birmingham.
In earlier years postcode wars were used as a topic of ‘banter’. However, some take it more serious than others as neighbouring borough gangs fight over territory. According to the Home Office these fights can be linked to the drugs market and the fact that cocaine, in particular, is now more readily available in this country. The lower prices mean there is increasing tensions between drug gangs which spills across the streets.
John Apter’s comment that the police service were “swimming against a tide”, a tide which in one 24-hour period in July 2018 alone 6 people were murdered. That year there was an 8% rise in the number in the offences involving knives or sharp instruments. The conservative government have even gone as far as to blame a particular genre of music called “drill”. This genre is described as being particularly dark, violent, and ominous. After the death of a drill artist the Met commissioner called to remove drill music featuring the dead artist and others as it “glamorised” violence.
Comedian Mo Gilligan argues that people are dying at such a young age which is traumatic. This may be because society has become so desensitised to violence but it would be better to see what young people think about this than saying it is about the music they listen to, because it is not.
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, set up a violence reduction unit to tackle knife crime in the capital however cautioned that it could take 10 years, or even a generation, to make “significant progress”. This new programme would deal with the triggers to domestic violence, social isolation, exclusion and mental health.
In the meantime, new knife crime prevention orders (KCPOs) have been introduced by Home Secretary Sajid Javid. These knife ASBOS have been said to “stigmatise and criminalise young people”. This is because it can target children as young as 12 who are suspected of knife crime. Measures in the order includes curfews, preventing young people from meeting up with “other gang members” and a course on the effects of knife crime.
If the Home Secretary did not want people hanging around on the streets, why are the youth clubs that distract, inspire, and educate people closed?
Whilst the intention of the KCPOs may target of trying to educate youths about knife crime, will the police really be able to enforce the orders? What will the punishments be for breaching such orders?
It is a topical debate and we will watch with anticipation to see how the KCPOs are implemented.
By Karimot Oladokun