"This Needs To Stop" - After Dip During Pandemic, UK Knife Crime Is Soaring

Authored by Chris Summers via The Epoch Times,

Heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury has called for “higher sentencing” for knife crime offenders after his cousin was stabbed to death at the weekend, but is knife crime really getting worse, and would longer sentences work?

"This Needs To Stop" - After Dip During Pandemic, UK Knife Crime Is Soaring

Rico Burton, 31, died in Manchester Royal Infirmary on Sunday after being stabbed in the early hours outside a pub in Altrincham. A teenager was also injured in the incident.

Fury wrote on his Instagram account, which has 5.7 million followers:

“My cousin was murdered last night, stabbed in the neck this is becoming ridiculous … idiots carry knives. This needs to stop. Asap, UK government needs to bring higher sentencing for knife crime.”

Burton’s death came only days after 87-year-old Tom O’Halloran was stabbed to death as he rode a mobility scooter beside a busy road in west London.

O’Halloran’s was the 58th homicide in London, the vast majority of which were caused by bladed weapons.

An undated photo of Thomas O’Halloran, 87, who was murdered on his mobility scooter in Greenford, west London, on Aug. 16, 2022 (Metropolitan Police)
An undated photo of Thomas O’Halloran, 87, who was murdered on his mobility scooter in Greenford, west London, on Aug. 16, 2022 (Metropolitan Police)

Last week the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, blamed violent crime in the capital on long, hot, sunny days.

Khan told LBC: “I’m afraid this summer we are seeing what we feared, which is an increase in violent crime … there are longer daylight hours, school holidays, a heatwave and so forth. We are working with the police to suppress that violence.”

The College of Policing said between 2014 and 2020, the number of violent crimes involving knives in England and Wales rose year-on-year but in the year ending March 2021 the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said it fell from 49,000 to 41,000 and the number of knife-related hospital admissions fell by 41 percent to 4,091.

The former Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, Sir Peter Fahy, sought to blame violent crime on a backlog of court cases, which he said had led to offenders spending more time on bail and reoffending.

Is This the ‘New Normal’?

Fahy told Sky News on Monday:

“The fact is that we saw a big reduction in knife crime and violence in general during the pandemic and I think the police is still trying to work out what has happened since then. Have we seen a real increase in violent crime or are we just coming to a new normal?”

But he doubted longer sentences would accomplish much, adding:

“Often when you’re talking about a random offence like knife crime where somebody chooses suddenly to pull out a knife, and they stab someone in the artery causing them to die, really it’s not in their mind how long of a prison sentence [they are] going to get.”

Knife crime is not a new problem in Britain, and nor are demands for longer sentences for offenders.

File photo showing a fleeing suspect clutching a knife moments after stabbing a man at the Notting Hill Carnival in London, England, on Aug. 29, 2011. (Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
File photo showing a fleeing suspect clutching a knife moments after stabbing a man at the Notting Hill Carnival in London, England, on Aug. 29, 2011. (Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

In 2006 John Reid, who was the home secretary in Tony Blair’s Labour government, proposed introducing mandatory jail sentences for anyone carrying knives, including a maximum of five years.

Reid was speaking in the wake of the murder of off-duty special constable Nisha Patel-Nasri in northwest London. Her husband Fadi—who pretended to be distraught but was secretly having an affair—was later jailed for life for hiring a hitman to kill her.

Mandatory jail sentences were never introduced by the Labour government but the sentencing guidelines in England and Wales for possession of a knife have increased, from two years in 2006 to four years today. There remains no minimum sentence and some offenders escape with just a fine or a caution.

In 2016 the Scottish government allowed judges to jail people for up to five years for possessing knives, but in 2018 the Aberdeen Press and Journal reported the maximum sentence had only been used once.

Last month Craig Robson, 29, was jailed for 10 months for possessing a knife in the Scottish town of Hawick. Robson, who had been stabbed a fortnight before, claimed he carried the knife for his own protection.

Between year 2011 and 2018 the number of offenders who received an immediate prison sentence in England and Wales for carrying an offensive weapon had risen from 23 percent to 38 percent, and it remained stable until it fell to 31 percent in the year ending 2021.

The Office for National Statistics said the decrease was likely owing to the pandemic-related lockdowns and their knock-on effect on the criminal justice system, which saw an increase in backlogs and therefore fewer cases being sentenced.

When judges sentence in murder cases they are also entitled to increase the minimum tariff based on aggravating factors, one of which would be that the offender was carrying a knife and had not just grabbed a weapon on the spur of the moment.

A National Police Chiefs’ Council spokesman said, in an email to The Epoch Times:

“Tackling knife crime, reducing violence, and removing weapons from the streets are top priorities for policing. Proactive policing, speaking to local communities, weapons sweeps, and effective targeting of habitual knife carriers have played a role in the number of offensive weapon offences that are prosecuted. Every weapon removed from the streets is possibly a life saved.”

They added: “Preventing young people from carrying knives is not something that police forces can do alone—it requires schools, charities, the health service, and community groups to work together. Early intervention plays a vitally important role in stopping young people from getting involved in crime.”

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