Express & Star comment: Knife crime has not gone away

The spectre of knife crime has not gone away during the pandemic.

Undated file photo of a person in a hoodie holding a knife.
Undated file photo of a person in a hoodie holding a knife.

While some crime categories fell as a result of the lockdown – including some areas of violent crime – there has been no let up in the number of attacks involving blades.

Following a spate of attacks around the country in recent weeks, MPs have called for knife crime to be declared a national epidemic, while a number of police forces have launched initiatives aiming to tackle the root cause of the issue.

Here in the West Midlands we have seen more than our fair share of tragedy related to knife crime in recent years.

A staggering number of lives that have been needlessly curtailed at the end of a blade.

Worryingly, some parts of the region are seeing increasing numbers of children taking knives into schools.

According to education chiefs, this is as a product of rising gang-related tensions in some communities, meaning that teenagers feel the need to carry a weapon in order top defend themselves.

Something has gone badly wrong in our society when a young person starts to think in this way.

Nobody becomes safer when weapons are being taken into our schools, and any child who gets into such a frame of mind is likely to be suffering from a great deal of anxiety and trauma.

Local authorities are left with little choice but to exclude youngsters who carry knives from school.

Their priority simply must be to keep staff and other pupils safe, but exclusion in itself does not get to the root of the problem.

For years it has been clear that we need a new approach to tackling knife crime in this country.

Part of it must involve targeted intervention work with gangs and young people who are in danger of being drawn into a life of violence.

However, this will only work if it comes alongside sufficient enforcement.

At the moment, more than a third of second time knife offenders in this country are spared jail. This is no sort of deterrent.

In such circumstances, mandatory imprisonment must be applied.

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