Austerity and the Endless Trail of Knife Crime

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Gang and knife-related crime have riddled London, and like a raging fire, has gradually spread across the rest of the UK.

Each passing day appears to be yet another bloody day when a youth, middle-aged person or an elderly person will be knifed down adding to the staggering statistic of victims of knife crime. As these gory murders unfold before our eyes, many conspiracy theories have emerged to try and explain the reasons for which one person coldly decides to take another person’s life without batting an eye.

Some have pinned the murders down to the availability of knives in our streets. As those who believe in this theory would normally say: “there are too many knives in our streets.” It is not uncommon to find the police looking under stones and behind the bushes in parks for knives hidden away by thugs.



Others have also blamed the rise in knife crime on the drastic reduction of the policing force, and there have been many calls to provide funding to crank-up recruitment of many more police officers to tackle crime. Yet another theory paints an even more dramatic picture of the situation by suggesting that gang members are awarded points for inflicting knife wounds on specific parts of the body. The highest score is awarded for striking the bulls-eye, which in this case, is the head of the rival gang member.

Whiles some of these theories may reflect the complexity of the situation, the truth of the matter is that knives have always been with us. As another writer rightly pointed out in an article, knives are found in every home and the average home will have different sizes of knives in the kitchen. They just have not been used before to brutally murder so many people!

It is also worth noting that knife crimes now extend beyond gangs. A closer look at the victims of knife crime, so far, will reveal many who were ordinary individuals going about their business. The tally points system of striking victims in specific body parts for marks will therefore not apply to these ordinary people. The knife crime situation is more complex than that! So, if knives have always been around but have not previously been used in the brutal way they are currently being used to take human lives, what has gone wrong? Why do we now have an endless trail of knife murders?



Knife crime reflects the frustrations of underprivileged youth who have been pushed to the brink by austerity. And like a malignant tumour this neglect, and isolation has festered over time and has now manifested in the form of knife crime. Many underprivileged young people, some of whom belong to gangs, now feel they have got the attention they deserve.

Knife crime has become the talk of the nation, and the situation has now turned into a soap opera with the daily reportage of the latest victim of knife crime. Most of the underprivileged young people who walk around carrying knives have struck fear into the hearts of society and the powers that be, and this will explain why thugs as young as 12 years will walk about the streets of London brandishing knives which they perceive to be the weapon of terror. With these knives, they have finally gained some attention and respect!

In 2011, I had the opportunity of filming interviews about Gang and Knife Crimes with some young people in Harrow London and one word that was repeatedly used by most of the young people was “the system”. In explaining the causes of gang and knife crimes, most young people interviewed referred to the authorities as “the system”. The overall impression was that “the system” was ruthless and did not care much about them and that “the system” would selectively exact punishment at the slightest provocation.



Observing the astronomical rise in knife crime in the UK within the last 3 years, I have no doubt that the feeling of “they” against “us” has had an impact on the psyche of many underprivileged young people. The fact that these young people have seen many social centres closing down in their communities has further affirmed the belief that “the system” does not care about them. Young people who used to channel their energies into boxing and small music studios in the community centre have seen these centres shut down due to austerity. And many have been pushed into the hands of gangs and drug dealers who would naturally exploit the situation.

It takes more than having access to a knife to take the life of another human being. The natural instinct would be for young people to quiver at the mere thought of taking a life, but austerity and neglect of the youth have turned many young people into cold and blood-thirsty murderers.

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