London is known as a fast-paced, exciting and dynamic city. Unfortunately, in recent years, it has also developed a reputation for knife crime. But exactly just how bad is knife crime in London? What counts as illegally carrying an offensive weapon? And what’s being done to fight it?
Yesterday, the true scale of London knife crime was revealed. The figures show that 60 people were stabbed to death in 2016 and that 1,159 sustained serious injuries. In other words, three people were killed or seriously injured by knives every day in London last year.
This equates to a 17 percent rise in serious knife crime compared to 2015. At the same time, less serious knife crime – such as minor injuries or threatening behaviour – increased by 12 percent. Combined, these increases mean that 2016 saw the highest figures of knife crime in London in four years.
The legislation around carrying knives is straight-forward. The maximum sentence for an adult carrying a knife is four years in prison and an unlimited fine. If you’re convicted of carrying a knife more than once, you’ll get a prison sentence.
It is illegal to:
• Sell a knife of any kind to a minor (someone under the age of 18)
• Carry a knife in public without a good reason – unless it’s a knife with a folding blade smaller than three inches
• Sell, buy or carry any type of banned knife
• Use any sort of knife in a threatening way (including legal knives)
If you’re charged with carrying a knife illegally, a court will decide if you’ve got a good reason to carry it.
Some examples of good reasons to carry a knife include:
• Carrying knives which you use at work to and from your work premises
• Carrying knives to a gallery or museum to be exhibited
• Carrying a knife that is going to be used for theatre, television, historical re-enactment or religious purposes
Examples of banned knives include:
• Disguised knives
• Flick knives
• Gravity knives
• Stealth knives
• And zombie knives
Many more weapons are banned in the UK. Contact your local police force to see whether a knife or weapon is banned.
Though recent London-wide police operations have resulted in more than 1,400 weapons being removed from the streets, the fight against knives really starts at home. Police are encouraging parents to challenge their teenage sons and daughters if they believe that they may be carrying knives with them when they go out. Many schools, churches and community groups are also doing good work to raise consciousness of the dangers of knife crime.
However, there is no quick fix to the problem. In the meantime, use your common sense – don’t walk alone at night unless you know the area well, comply with your attacker if threatened and avoid dangerous areas. The boroughs with the highest rates of knife crime in 2016 were:
• Southwark – 1,258 incidents
• Newham – 1,165 incidents
• Lambeth – 1,156 incidents
• Tower Hamlets – 1,087 incidents
• Croydon – 1,026 incidents
If you’re concerned about someone who carries a knife, you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
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