What counts as knife crime
Knife crime is crime involving a knife. It’s a crime to threaten someone with a knife or carry a knife as a weapon in a robbery or burglary. Police can search you if they think you’re carrying a knife. Some knives are offensive weapons and are banned in public places.
Knife crime includes
- carrying a knife or trying to buy one if you’re under 18
- threatening someone with a knife
- carrying a knife that’s 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 states 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 2016-2018. Knife crime offences only represent between 4% to 5% of total all the serious violence recorded in Somerset over the last three years.
Hospital data also confirms that Somerset experiences much lower levels of admissions for assault with a sharp object, averaging below 10 admissions each month over the last seven years compared with Avon and Somerset who average 10 each month.
The Business Impact Target Report identified that. young people aged 10 to 19 years old are disproportionately involved in knife possession offences in the Avon and Somerset police force area, committing over 30% of all possession offences. In Somerset, we see the biggest proportion of knife crime committed by 18 to 24-year olds but with the largest increase in rate occurring in those aged 10 to 17 years
VRU strategy on tackling weapon possession offences amongst young people
Tackling weapons possession offences amongst young people continues to be the focus for the VRU in 2021-22. As it states in the latest Social Media and experiences of cultural norms, violence and exploitation in Somerset, Insights Report May 2021, the primary reason young people reported carrying weapons is for protection and out of fear for their safety, not to intentionally incite violence.
There has been in increase in young females involved, including a 48.1% increase in the 10-19 age group and 38% increase in the 30-39 age group.
Social Media and experiences of cultural norms, violence and exploitation in Somerset, Insights Report May 2021
The primary 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 exacerbate 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.
Voice of the youth
- 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’re nervous about going to the police, you can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. They will never ask for your name or try to trace the number that you’re calling from.
If you are worried about someone you know carrying a knife, help and guidance is available:
- The #knifefree website provides information about helping young people go knife free.
- 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.