I am unashamedly proud of where I grew up, an awkward part of the United Kingdom that doesn’t quite know whether it is a part of London, Essex, or both. For clarity’s sake, I am from the London Borough of Havering. It sits right on the eastern cusp of London. We have red buses and an unhealthy lust for pie, mash, and liquor.
Havering has its problems – many of which are applicable nationwide, Coventry and Leamington Spa included.
In Havering, we have a massive problem with knives. In our city, we have a massive problem with knives. In our country, we have a massive problem with knives. Yet, so many of our journalists and politicians are quick to dismiss knife crime as a racial or spatial issue. Knife crime is a national issue, and it should be treated as such.
Is it any wonder that the press continues to report knife crime along racial lines when some of our politicians are so blatantly inept?
A little over a month ago, my hometown was rocked by the unprovoked and brutal stabbing of Jodie Chesney, a 17-year old student. Jodie’s death shocked the borough: 2,000 people marched through the streets of Romford on a Thursday. Their message was simple, this mindless violence must stop, and it must stop now.
Once again, our politicians have reacted to the public mood abysmally. Scott Mann, the MP for North Cornwall, recently suggested that “every knife sold in the UK should have a GPS tracker fitted in the handle.” Mann’s suggestion was likely a naïve slip of the tongue.
The same cannot be said for Sir Christopher Chope, who suggested that young people ought to “get fitter” to avoid being stabbed. The MP for Christchurch didn’t tweet this mindlessly and he wasn’t harassed into making a comment by the press. His comments were made to high-ranking members of the Metropolitan Police at the Home Affairs Committee.
Knife crime is an epidemic in this country, and it is one that we must wipe out
Is it any wonder that the press continues to report knife crime along racial lines when some our politicians are so blatantly inept? In the first six hours of 2019, two people were stabbed to death in London. Between January 2017 and August 2018, 524 instances of knife crime were reported to the police in Coventry. Knife crime is an epidemic in this country, and it is one that we must wipe out.
It is often suggested that schools must do more to prevent young people from turning to violent crime. There is clearly merit and logic to this argument. If schools are able to identify young people who are displaying behaviours that could potentially lead to them committing knife crime they should, of course, act. But what on earth are they supposed to do?
Knife crime won’t disappear overnight, but it will be repressed if we finally take this issue seriously
Ultimately, there is no single answer to this country’s knife crime epidemic. We must embark on a root and branch upheaval of our society, and we won’t achieve that by continuing to blame minorities and freezing young people out of the workplace.
Carrying a knife is sometimes presented as a means of ensuring personal saftey. Ultimately, we must eradicate this myth. We must invest in our young people. We must engage with communities that feel most ostracised. We must aspire to create a society in which we can all go to the park, the pub or the panto without having to worry about getting home. Knife crime won’t disappear overnight, but it will be repressed if we finally take this issue seriously.
I offer my sincerest condolences to anyone who has been affected by knife crime, but those condolences will never be enough. If you know any details about a crime that has been committed, or require information regarding knife crime, please contact the Police on 101 or visit Fearless.