What counts as knife crime
Knife crime includes:
- carrying a knife or trying to buy one if you are under 18
- threatening someone with a knife
- carrying a knife that is banned
- a murder where the victim was stabbed with a knife
- a robbery or burglary where a thief carried a knife as a weapon
Somerset and knife crime
The Somerset Serious Violence Reduction Unit Needs Assessment shows that Somerset experiences lower levels of violence than the combined police force area of Avon and Somerset and the rest of England.
Although knife crime makes up a small percentage of the total, police data suggests a 100% increase in absolute numbers reported in Somerset between 2016 and 2018. Hospital data also confirms that Somerset experiences much lower levels of admissions for assault with a sharp object.
The Business Impact Target Report showed that young people aged 10 to 19 are disproportionately involved in knife possession offences in the Avon and Somerset police force area. This age group commits over 30% of all possession offences.
In Somerset, most knife crime is committed by 18 to 24 year olds – but with the largest increase in the rate amongst those aged 10 to 17 years.
Violence Reduction Unit strategy on tackling weapon possession offences among young people
Tackling weapons possession offences among young people continues to be the focus for the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU). As the report ‘Social Media and experiences of cultural norms, violence and exploitation in Somerset, Insights Report May 2021’ shows, the main reason young people reported carrying weapons is for protection and out of fear for their safety, not to intentionally incite violence.
There has been an increase in young females involved, including a 48.1% increase in the 10 to 19 year old age group and a 38% increase in the 30 to 39 year old age group.
Social Media and experiences of cultural norms, violence and exploitation in Somerset – Insights Report May 2021
The main reason young people reported carrying weapons is for protection and out of fear for their safety, not to intentionally incite violence. Social media and online content can increase this fear. Violence is recorded and shared, which can fuel the perception that everyone else is carrying a weapon. In particular, videos of school fights shared from other schools fuelled this fear.
Some young people also carried weapons because they perceived it to be cool, sometimes influenced by music artists and online influencers. Weapon carrying often felt like a necessity for young people based on geography, and a young person’s perception of a particular place. Some young people also had complex family and home lives and lacked basic safety and protection.
Most weapon carriers were reported to be male. Some carry because they feel pressured and stifled by the ‘male image’, others because of low self-esteem. Young people expressed a need for understanding and compassion around why they had started carrying.
What our young residents say
- The problem is that school fights get filmed, and they are then circulated which fuels other people to start carrying weapons.
- It could be either fear or it could be to protect themselves. They know how much people already have knives on the streets and they just want another way to defend themselves. That’s why most people have them. Or just ‘cos they want to have that image. But it’s mainly ‘cos other people have it and they want some actual way of defending themselves.
- With men now it’s so hard ‘cos of how much they’ve been influenced already to carry a knife, they don’t wanna look like they’re scared in any way….They don’t want to do that to themselves, because of what the male image is. They don’t want to hinder their ego.
- I know people that carry, I have carried. Some people do it ‘cos they think they’re cool, some people do it ‘cos they have to, some people do it because they’re scared.
- School fights are the reason why people carry weapons. There is a disagreement and things escalate over the next day or so, people get fearful and start carrying.
- Usually there’s a reason, if they live in a rough neighbourhood they have to carry…I’ve got a friend of a friend who got stabbed, like, the other day. And he wasn’t, like, doing anything, dealing drugs, he just got stabbed for no reason, ‘cos of where he lives. Hearing that makes you think ‘oh, I don’t live in a very safe neighbourhood’.
- I’ve had that experience of carrying because you’re scared, I’ve been through it… when I was carrying I didn’t have anyone there so that was probably the worst time in my life. Like I was homeless and stuff… I didn’t really have anyone to say anything… when I went to live with my nan, I felt safe again… I didn’t feel like scared anymore or that I had to protect myself.
Report Knife Crimes
If you have information about knife crime in your area and you are nervous about going to the police, you can phone Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. They will never ask for your name or try to trace the number that you are calling from.
If you are worried about someone you know carrying a knife, help and guidance is available:
- Fearless.org is a service that allows you to pass on information about crime 100% anonymously.
- Crimestoppers is an independent charity that enables you to report crime anonymously.
- Call 999 immediately if there is an ongoing incident involving a weapon.