Fri, 23 Mar 2018
Alex Duncan, Police Federation of England and Wales’ lead on Stop and Search said: “Today the government has launched its new #knifefree campaign aimed and dissuading young people from carrying knives.
“The campaign features a website, videos, posters and a ‘catchy’ hashtag – all at a cost of £1.35 million.
“While we commend their attempts to tackle this issue, it feels somewhat like they are locking the stable door after the horse has bolted.
“Latest figures show knife crime in the UK is up by 21 per cent and at its highest level in seven years, this is in direct correlation to the number of stop and searches which have fallen by 21 per cent in the same period.
“This is all with the backdrop of funding cuts and reduction in police numbers.
“Prevention and diversion are useful tactics in the fight against knife crime. But the reality on our streets is that more and more young people are carrying – and using – knives. We are at risk of it becoming a cultural norm for some youngsters.
“The Home Secretary has said she wants to ‘stamp out violent crime’ and we are waiting for her Serious Violence Strategy to be published which is set to include some more measures in reaction to the latest trends in serious crime such as acid attacks and restrictions on the online sale of knives.
“But in reality every home in the country contains these potentially lethal weapons. And young people have ready access to them.
“As well as prevention, we need to tackle the issue on the streets. This is increasingly challenging as the numbers of officers on the ground has been stripped right back.
“Stop and search has been seen by some as a controversial tactic. Our view has always been that it is an invaluable tool when it is used with the appropriate checks and balances – and its deterrent effect cannot be denied.
“In January the London Mayor himself, who had previously been a firm opponent of stop and search, announced a policy U-turn in relation to his stance on it after a series of stabbings in the capital.
“And the Home Secretary has previously said she supports the use of the policy when it is correctly conducted.
“Education and awareness via campaigns such as this are positive steps but they can only be part of the picture to be used along with disruption and prevention to combat this worrying trend and its potentially devastating consequences.”
© 2018 Police Federation of England & Wales