Dealing with the rising tide of UK knife crime

This year has witnessed record numbers of deaths and serious penetrating injuries, mainly in young men, from knife wounds in London, as well as several other major cities in the England. Rapid and skilful treatment of the victims of knife crime in major trauma centres can undoubtedly be life-saving, but requires the on-call availability of clinicians experienced in emergency cardiothoracic and abdominal surgery and significantly increases the workload of A&E Departments.

The underlying cause for this current epidemic has been variously ascribed to gang culture, drugs, rising numbers of young males, and diminished policing levels – especially the significant reduction in stop-and-search activity because of anxieties about racial discrimination against young black men.

On the 31st July a meeting is being held at the Royal Society of Medicine 1 Wimpole St London W1 to debate and discuss these issues in depth (click here for further information). Do join us there and also take a moment to post your thoughts about this epidemic as well as your own experience of dealing with the victims of knife crime.  

Comments (34) Add yours ↓
  1. ChristianBrown Consultant

    We are seeing increasing numbers of young men with penetrating renal injuries, sometimes isolated, sometimes as part of multi organ injuries and I look forward to the RSM Knife crime day and sharing our experience in a Major Trauma Centre.

    July 2, 2018 Reply
  2. Steven Norris Businessman

    I confine my comment only to the social aspect of this troubling issue. The increase in knife crime is certainly attributable to an increase in gang culture particularly although not exclusively among young black males which doesn’t just result in attacks on rival gang members but occasionally emerges as random attacks as part of brutal initiation practices. But the key element is also the most difficult. The recent rise is mostly attributable to the reduction in police stop and search activity. The current Mayor of London was concerned that this practice was discriminatory and his concern is understandable given the greater number of young black males who were previously stopped and searched when they were not in fact carrying weapons. But it is a sad fact of life that young black males are more likely to possess these weapons as evidenced not least by the prevalence of black on black crimes. In setting potential discrimination and distress against the proliferation of potentially lethal weapons we face a moral dilemma. But I am clear that the lesser of the evils is the restitution of a stronger stop and search policy.
    It should of course be accompanied by much more proactive effort to raise the sense of self worth and self-respect which these young men so clearly lack. They resent being treated as they see it as second class citizens, excluded from mainstream opportunity in education and in future employment prospects. The long term answer is not just stopping them from attacking each other and threatening the community as a whole but in recognising the need to invest far more in outreach through schools, through sport and through positive discrimination where necessary. This is not a cheap challenge. But it is infinitely cheaper than the consequence of doing nothing.

    July 5, 2018 Reply
  3. Christopher Aylwin Consultant

    Working in a busy inner city major trauma centre we see the consequences of knife violence on a daily basis. Although all trauma cases have increased over the last few years, we have seen a particular spike in penetrating injury which is now approaching 20% of our cases. The youth workers who are embedded within hospital perform a fantastic role in changing the mindsets of young people who have sustained interpersonal violence to try to reduce re-attendances to the emergency department. However perhaps it is time as a society that we look at knife violence as a public health problem. Without significant attempts at primary prevention – socially, educationally and politically – the issue is unlikely to go away. I look forward to the event at the RSM on 31st July and to hear the discussions on what we are seeing, and efforts to reduce it.

    July 6, 2018 Reply
  4. John Boyd Retired consultant surgeon

    The RSM is to be congratulated on presenting this meeting on a subject of such contemporary importance. Much is spoken about and reported on the subject of rising knife crime and this has not been reflected in meetings such as this which will provide a broad review of the social and practical aspects. A considered and effective response can only be achieved when there is discussion by well informed and concerned individuals.

    It is to be hoped that it will be attended by NHS decision makers as well as lawmakers and medical and surgical professionals.

    July 17, 2018 Reply
  5. Roger Kirby Professor of Urology

    Official figures show police in England and Wales recorded a 12% rise in homicides and a 16% increase in offences involving knives or sharp instruments in the year ending March 2018

    July 19, 2018 Reply
  6. Roger Kirby Professor of Urology

    The rise in the murder rate is the fourth consecutive increase with 701 cases, the figures show for the year ending March 2018.

    Knife crime continues to rise with police recording 40,147 offences this year compared to last year.

    July 19, 2018 Reply
  7. Roger Kirby Professor of Urology

    Knife crime affects communities, families and emergency services. @RoySocMed is hosting a public event on what can be learned and how to tackle this problem on the 31 July.

    July 19, 2018 Reply
  8. Culley Carson Professor of Urology

    While we see some knife related injuries in the US, gun related injuries and deaths are the major violence related trauma in our emergency rooms. Indeed, we now have active shooter drills in our hospitals and clinics to train for gun related assaults in our health care centers. While we have been lucky enough to have none thus far, the gun violence in the US cities has reached epidemic proportions and is being studied by the CDC. Gun violence is the most common cause of death in large cities among adolescent males. In Chicago, there have been over 500 gun related homicides in 2018 with fewer than 50 knife related deaths. Unfortunately, the availability of guns, especially hand guns, in the US is a problem with no foreseeable solution. Trauma surgeons and urologists confront many gun related injuries even in smaller hospitals.

    July 24, 2018 Reply
  9. Roger Kirby Professor of Urology

    Cuts to policing are endangering the public, a police and crime commissioner has said, as national organisations expressed their concern over declining police numbers with many forces receiving record numbers of emergency calls.

    West Midlands police and crime commissioner David Jamieson warned that having fewer officers to deal with rising crime is a “deadly equation” as a catalogue of crimes such as modern-day slavery and gang crime which need to be investigated grows.

    Recent figures have shown how various serious crimes are on the rise, with almost 40,000 knife and gun crimes involving a knife or a sharp instrument recorded last year, as homicides across England and Wales rose 12 per cent in 2018, to 701.

    Meanwhile, police forces in England and Wales have less money in real terms than they did in 2010.

    July 29, 2018 Reply
  10. Roger Kirby Professor of Urology

    Media coverage of yesterday’s symposium on Knife Crime held st the Royal Society of Medicine:

    August 1, 2018 Reply
  11. Roger Kirby Professor of Urology

    A young man has knifed to death and two others have been rushed to hospital after a triple stabbing in south-east London.

    Police and paramedics were scrambled to Warham Street, Camberwell, where the men were found suffering knife wounds on Wednesday evening.

    August 2, 2018 Reply
  12. Roger Kirby Professor of Urology

    Almost 12 per cent of officers responding to a recent survey said they planned to leave policing and 59 per cent reported low personal morale, amid an increase in violent crime, the terror threat and 999 calls.

    In the year to March, the number of homicides recorded by police rose by 12 per cent, knife crime offences were up by 16 per cent and robbery rocketed by 30 per cent. In the same time period, the number of police officers in England and Wales fell to 122,404 – the lowest number since comparable records began in 1996 – and the proportion of criminal investigations ending with a charge dropped to just 9 per cent.

    HM Inspectorate of Constabulary has warned that forces are failing to respond to low priority crimes because of “significant stress” caused by budget cuts and rising demand, with callers waiting in long 999 queues put at risk.

    August 7, 2018 Reply
  13. Roger Kirby Professor of Urology

    London is on course for the highest number of killings in a decade after the total this year surpassed the figure for the whole of 2017.

    Two domestic attacks on Monday brought the number of homicides – which includes murder and manslaughter – so far this year to 121. The figure for 2017 was 118, excluding the victims of terror attacks.

    If killings continue at the current rate, the total will stand at 140 by the end of the year, which would be the highest since 2008.

    The capital has been gripped in a spate of bloodshed since 31 October, with the murder of father Rocky Djelal in Southwark park, in the southeast of the city, as the first of a string of fatal stabbings.

    The following day, 15-year-old Jay Hughes was killed outside a chicken shop in Bellingham in the southeast, and the day after that 17-year-old Malcolm Mide-Madariola was knifed outside Clapham South Tube station, in the southwest.

    On 4 November, Ayodeji Habeeb Azeez, 22, was stabbed to death in Anerley, southeast London, and the following day 16-year-old John Ogunjobi died in front of his parents in Tulse Hill, in the south of the city.

    November 15, 2018 Reply
  14. Roger Kirby Professor of Urology

    Two people have been stabbed to death in London in the first six hours of this year. The Metropolitan Police has launched separate murder investigations after fatal knife attacks in Camberwell, south London, and the West End in the early hours of New Year’s Day. Murders in the capital hit a 10-year high in 2018.

    Police were called by paramedics to a stabbing at a property in John Ruskin Street, Camberwell, at 4.20am yesterday. A woman aged in her early thirties was pronounced dead half an hour later. A 34-year-old man has been arrested.

    Officers were called to reports of another knife attack outside a New Year’s Eve party in Park Lane, Westminster, at 5.35am. A man in his early thirties, thought to be a security guard at the private event, was found with stab wounds. He was pronounced dead at 6.05am.

    Two other men, aged 37 and 29, and a 29-year-old woman were also stabbed. They were taken to hospital with injuries not believed to be life threatening.

    Detective chief inspector Andy Partridge said: “It appears the deceased and the two injured males were working as security staff for the party, they were attacked by a group of males who were outside trying to enter the venue. The female was also attacked as she assisted the security staff in closing the front door of the premises.

    January 2, 2019 Reply
  15. Roger Kirby Prof of Urology

    A 14-year-old boy has been stabbed to death by attackers who knocked him off a moped, the Met said today.

    The wounded teenager was found in Bickley Road, Leyton, in Waltham Forest, at 18:30 GMT on Monday.

    Detectives believe the moped had been involved in a crash with a car, after which three men got out the vehicle, stabbed the teenager and drove off.

    He died at the scene and his next of kin have been informed. No-one has been arrested.

    The boy is believed to be the youngest victim to die on London’s streets in the last year. There were 132 homicides in 2018, the highest total since 2008.

    January 9, 2019 Reply
  16. Roger Kirby Professor of Urology

    Children as young as 12 are to handed new Knife Crime Prevention Orders in a bid to prevent them from carrying weapons. Home secretary Sajid Javid said the proposed Asbo-style powers would act as a deterrent to young people and stop them becoming involved in violence. But critics argued that the orders would criminalise children, while doing nothing to address the underlying causes of rising knife crime.

    The government plans to introduce Knife Crime Prevention Orders (KCPOs) by amending the Offensive Weapons Bill. They would be imposed on anyone aged 12 or over who police believe to be carrying a blade. People served with them could then be place under curfew or have restrictions placed on their movement and social media use. Although the orders are a civil measure, a breach would be a criminal offence punishable by a two-year prison sentence.

    February 1, 2019 Reply
  17. Roger Kirby Professor of Urology

    The surge in knife killings in London has helped to push the number of blade deaths nationwide to a record high, official figures showed today.

    The Office for National Statistics said that there were 285 “knife and sharp instrument homicides” during the 12 months to the end of March last year.

    February 7, 2019 Reply
  18. Roger Kirby Professor of Urology

    The figure, from NHS England, reveal a 54% rise in the number of children and teenagers treated for injuries from knives over five years.

    It comes as a leading consultant warns that she is seeing increasing numbers of girls involved in knife crime.

    Doctors also said that injuries were becoming more severe and victims getting younger.

    ‘Severe injuries are the norm’

    The figures record the number of people admitted to hospital for an overnight stay or longer, for knife crime injuries between 2012-13 and 2017-18.

    Among victims aged between 10 and 19, the numbers went up from 656 to 1,012 last year. Admissions have also grown by 30% across all ages, from 3,849 in 2012-13, to 4,986 last year.

    February 9, 2019 Reply
  19. Roger Kirby Professor of Urology

    Funding for children’s services has been slashed by a third since 2010, research shows, as experts warn more young people are being pushed into violence and criminal exploitation as a result.

    A new analysis of figures reveals that in some parts of England, the money available to local councils per child has dropped by as much as 52 per cent in real terms, leaving thousands more children at risk of neglect and abuse “slipping through the cracks and into crisis”. Youth workers and social workers warned that the dramatic cuts were inextricably linked to a rise in youth knife crime and the criminal exploitation of children by county lines gangs.

    February 26, 2019 Reply
  20. Roger Kirby Professor of Urology

    The death toll from stabbings will keep increasing until the government implements an effective strategy to combat violent crime, police leaders have warned.

    John Apter, chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “Until the government can come up with an effective strategy to combat this epidemic, the death toll will keep on rising. Policing has been stripped to the bone and the consequences are clear for all to see. This country is in the grip of a terrifying spiral of violent crime and both the police service and NHS are struggling to cope. What makes this more sickening is it was predicted. This is the true cost of austerity that we warned of but were ridiculed for doing so.”

    A senior Metropolitan Police officer said he could not “magic officers out of thin air” amid calls to increase patrols in the capital following the murder of a teenage girl. Meanwhile in Manchester, relatives of a 17-year-old boy who was stabbed to death said they were living “every parent’s worst nightmare”.

    Theresa May oversaw budget cuts to police as home secretary and accused the Police Federation of “crying wolf” over the potential consequences in 2015. Yesterday, she insisted there was “no direct correlation between certain crimes and police numbers”.

    March 5, 2019 Reply
  21. Roger Kirby Professor of Urology

    The home secretary, Sajid Javid, says that the present wave of knife crime “can’t go on”, although his apparent confidence is contradicted by the reality of a problem that shows no sign of abating. Statistics from a range of agencies paint a bleak picture.

    NHS data indicates that the number of children aged 16 or younger who received treatment after being attacked with a blade or other sharp object rose by 93 per cent between 2012-13 and 2017-18. Figures from the Home Office show that the overall number of offences involving a knife or sharp instrument rose from a little over 25,000 in the year to March 2014, to just over 40,000 in the year to March 2018. Between January and November of last year 272 people across the UK were fatally stabbed.

    March 5, 2019 Reply
  22. Roger Kirby Professor of Urology

    Knife and weapon offences are at the highest level for nine years in England and Wales, new government figures show.

    In 2018, almost 21,500 crimes were dealt with by the criminal justice system – the largest number since 2009. One in five of the culprits were children and almost two-thirds of cases did not result in an immediate prison term.

    Rory Stewart, the justice minister, said: “Knife crime destroys lives and shatters communities, and this government is doing everything in its power to tackle its devastating consequences. Sentences for those carrying knives are getting tougher – they are more likely to be sent straight to prison, and for longer, than at any time in the last decade.”

    The figures were revealed amid national outcry over a string of brutal stabbings, seeing teenagers including Jodie Chesney killed in a spate of attacks. After repeated calls from police leaders for increased funding following the loss of 20,000 officers since 2010, the government on Tuesday announced an extra £100m for areas worst affected by violent crime.

    March 15, 2019 Reply
  23. Roger Kirby Professor of Urology

    “Every knife sold in the UK should have a gps tracker fitted in the handle. It’s time we had a national database like we do with guns. If you’re carrying it around you had better have a bloody good explanation, obvious exemptions for fishing etc.“
    Great idea Conservative MP Scott Mann!

    March 15, 2019 Reply
  24. Roger Kirby Professor of Urology

    Not before time, the government is now addressing knife crime. It will be easier for police in England and Wales to use stop and search powers under section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, under which for a limited period in a given area people can be searched to prevent violent crime. Inspectors, rather than more senior officers, will be able to authorise this tactic in seven regions accounting for more than 60 per cent of knife crime – London, the West Midlands, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and South Wales.

    April 1, 2019 Reply
  25. Roger Kirby Professor of Urology

    Theresa May bears personal responsibility for rising violence in Britain after overseeing years of “unforgivable” cuts to policing, the head of the Police Federation has said.

    John Apter, who represents rank-and-file officers, hit out at the prime minister’s policies as home secretary after attending a knife crime summit at Downing Street.

    He said the government had left public services stripped to the bone and police were “firefighting” stabbings and murders.

    “Whilst I fully accept we have to look forward, I think the government and the prime minister in particular has to shoulder some of the responsibility for the government’s failed policies,” Mr Apter said.

    “What she’s done to policing is unforgivable and she’s now seeing the impact of that.”

    April 2, 2019 Reply
  26. Roger Kirby Professor of Urology

    Olympic legend Sebastian Coe has become the most high-profile Conservative to warn savage cuts to youth services are behind soaring levels of knife crime.
    The Tory peer lashed out at his government for failing to recognise the “bloody obvious” that properly funded activities are “the most potent social worker in any community”.
    In a powerful TV interview, Lord Coe linked youth service cuts – 70 per cent since the Conservatives came into power, according to Labour – to the rising number of fatal stabbings. “It’s still not funded properly. We’ve strangled the life out of the youth services in this country, yet we are surprised that we have big problems in our inner cities,” the multiple gold-medal winner warned.

    April 22, 2019 Reply
  27. Roger Kirby Professor of Urology

    Knife crime has surged to the highest levels since records began in England and Wales, new figures reveal.
    Murder and manslaughter figures also reached a 10-year high in 2018, when 732 people were killed. Police recorded almost 44,500 offences involving knives or sharp weapons – a rise of 6 per cent – including 252 homicides and 368 attempted murders.
    “The volume of knife crime offences has increased by 33 per cent since the year ending March 2011,” the Office for National Statistics said, the earliest year for which there is comparable data.
    The crimes included almost 19,000 assaults, 17,400 robberies, and 3,200 threats to kill. Knives were used in more than 400 rapes in the year to December, as well as 150 other sexual assaults.

    April 26, 2019 Reply
  28. Roger Kirby Professor of Urology

    Rising knife crime could be linked to budget cuts that have decimated youth services in parts of England, according to a parliamentary report. The average council has reduced spending on services such as social clubs and youth workers by 40 per cent, and some places have seen funding plummet by 91 per cent in three years.

    May 7, 2019 Reply
  29. Roger Kirby Professor of Urology

    Efforts to tackle soaring levels of knife crime and county lines activity are being “seriously hampered” because funding for doing so has not yet been announced by central government, council leaders have warned. Local authorities are still waiting to hear how much money they will receive to tackle youth offending this year – more than two months after they had to set their budgets.
    The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils in England and Wales, Said that this was making it “extremely difficult” for councils to plan the services that support young people and keep them out of the justice system.

    May 15, 2019 Reply
  30. Roger Kirby Professor of Urology

    Knife crime has surged to a new record at the same time as criminal punishments have increased, prompting claims ministers are responding with “sticking-plaster solutions” that are “not a cure for serious youth violence”.
    Bladed and offensive weapon offences dealt with by the criminal justice system in England and Wales are at their highest rate since 2010 at 22,041, marking an increase of more than a third in just four years, new government data shows.
    Meanwhile, the average prison sentence for knife offenders has risen 47 per cent over the past decade, from five months to eight months, while the proportion jailed immediately has risen from a fifth (22 per cent) to 37 per cent in the same period.
    The data also shows a surge in cautions and convictions among children and young people, with the figure rising by almost half (48 per cent) in the four years to March 2019, while the increase in adult offenders over the same period was smaller at just under a third (31 per cent).

    June 14, 2019 Reply
  31. Roger Kirby Professor of Urology

    A man has died following a triple stabbing in north London, the fifth killing in the capital in six days, triggering a murder investigation.

    Officers were called to Welbeck Road, Barnet, at 10.50pm on Tuesday following reports of a fight.

    Scotland Yard said three men who had been stabbed were taken to hospital, one of whom later died.

    June 19, 2019 Reply
  32. Roger Kirby Professor of Urology

    The NHS could send doctors into classrooms around the country to tackle a wave of knife crime that saw a thousand teens admitted to hospital with stab wounds last year.
    Announcing the appointment of the first violence reduction tsar, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said the health service will be taking a leading role in “breaking the cycle of violence”.
    Dr Martin Griffiths, a consultant trauma surgeon at Barts Health NHS Trust in London, is taking on the role after spending a decade visiting schools in the capital and working with victims of gang violence.

    June 20, 2019 Reply
  33. Roger Kirby Professor of Urology

    Knife possession offences involving women in England have increased steeply since 2014, new police figures show.

    Data obtained by the BBC through Freedom of Information requests shows a rise by at least 10 per cent every year.

    There were 1,509 offences recorded in 2018, representing an increase of 73 per cent over five years.

    The highest number of possession cases involving women and girls was in London, but some northern England regions have seen such crimes increase at a faster rate.

    The London Metropolitan Police recorded a 52 per cent increase over five years, with a total of 916 recorded offences from 2014 to 2018.

    In the same period, Merseyside Police saw a 54 per cent rise, to 499 offences, while offences in Greater Manchester doubled, with 95 recorded last year.

    August 8, 2019 Reply
  34. Roger Kirby Professor of Urology

    Stab-proof knifes from Liverpool

    September 23, 2019 Reply

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