Thursday, June 01, 2006

Knife crime

Good article by Shaun Bailey in the Telegraph today. Writing about the kids he works with on estates in West London, he describes a situation where carrying a knife is the norm, and using it is common-place. The knife amnesty that the police have just launched is a fairly pointless exercise for the cameras. The people most likely to hand in a weapon are those least likely to use it.

What to do about it? Unfortunately there are no easy answers, no matter what politicians would like us to think. A simple step, however, might be to make searches for weapons a routine part of contact between the police and teenage boys (and girls). Anytime that the police have to deal with these kids, whether it's because someone's made a complaint or because the police are suspicious, then there should be a search for weapons. And if a weapon is found then it should be prosecution - with repeat offences warranting increasing sanctions.

If there's a high risk of being caught and the sanctions get increasingly harsh then you'll reach a point where it becomes too 'expensive' to go out with a knife. That's what we should be aiming for. If the risk of getting caught is low, and the sanction not very onerous then carrying a knife is a 'cheap' option.

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