Monday, 1 December 2008

Knife Crime (yet again)

The SNP have announced another strand in the fight against knife crime. I have gone over my opinions on knife crime on numerous occassions, so won't re-hash those again now.

Nicola Sturgeon was delighted to report a new initiative where surgeon's with experience of dealing with the aftermath of knife incidents would go into schools and outline the difficulties of repairing the damage.

First of all, I welcome wholeheartedly any attempt to stop young people carrying a blade, and I absolutely commend any surgeon willing to give up his or her spare time to talk to kids about it.

However, I had heard of this move some time ago, under rather different circumstances. The story went that some bright spark had come up with the idea. The spark in question, working in the Violence Reduction Unit, has been previously reported to me as rather closed minded about new ideas and unwilling to promote anyone else's proposals. Rather amusingly, I was told that bright spark, on vocalising the idea, had been told 'not to be daft' (my own opinion will follow later).

So it was with some surprise that I read in the papers that the idea had forged ahead. Wonder how that happened?

Having people going into schools certainly works, according to the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, who point out that education programmes were the most effective method of reducing weapons carrying on a local basis.

That said, they also point out that these programmes are effective when delivered by someone that the young people could identify with, rather than an individual who would be seen as an authority figure.

In my own opinion, for what it's worth, too many of these ideas are formulated by people with no first hand experience of street violence. Perhaps this is why we get crap like the proposal to introduce licensing schemes for non domestic knife sellers (my response this one is in an earlier post).

The kind of violence that can be encountered on the street is barbaric in the extreme. It's one thing reading about it, it's another thing entirely to experience it.

Let me tell you, that when you see someone lying in the gutter with the life ebbing out of them from a stab wound, it's not a good experience. Likewise, having a knife pulled on you in a dark alley is even more unpleasant.

It's these experiences that inform my views on knife crime, and it's the reason I get so frustrated at the fluffy solutions put forward by politicians who live in comfortable middle class conditions.

There are lots of good works on the events leading up to, and during a violent episode. If you are interested, do some research on the subject. It's fascinating and horrifying at the same time.

It is the brutal reality of the event itself that I believe needs to be taught to kids. And the brutal reality can only be really described by someone who has experienced violent crime at its worst.

The effects on a victim, can be profoundly long lasting, and not just physically. Many suffer from depression, loss of self esteem and some develop agrophobia. The consequences are far more serious than many appreciate.

So, given the research points to education programmes delivered by people kids can identify with (the kids who do, or are likely to, carry a blade) as being the most effective way to combat knife carrying, then why is it not being done?

In an earlier post on this subject, I ended up stating that I hoped civil servants, with a rather set ideology, were not having undue influence on Ministers. I gave a 'tail wagging the political dog' analogy. I had hoped it wasn't true, but some may think otherwise.

If you want to speak to someone who can graphically illustrate the scene of a violent episode, then give my friend Mr Mark Davies a call. I don't know anyone who can do it better.


Anonymous said...

i recall a TV programme which dealt with the aftermath of gun shot wounds.

A camea crew followed the victim as he was admitted to the A&E dept,going through all the investigations, and eventually through to the operation which saved the victims life. Perhaps something of this sort should be done with the victims of a stabbing. I do remember some graphic footage of the injuries sustained by the bullet as it had passed through the torso, - narrowly missing the aorta. (I was a nurse in previous life, and even I was a bit taken aback at the damage caused to this innocent victim)

Jim said...

Anonymous, thanks for your comment.

I have to say I think that is a brilliant idea about a programme, and one well worth pursuing.



Stuart Winton said...

But do those carrying knives really not know the consequences of using them?

However, it would certainly make a difference to the sanitised and glamourised portrayal of violence.

Mark Davies said...

No for the most part they don't even consider the concequences. The use of the knife by the youth gang types is often a compulsive act, but they don't consider consequences, the same way they don't when they break into your house or do drugs. They may know the consequences (from experience often), but they don't consider them.The decent kids who carry through fear of the above group are typical teenagers, they live for the moment & don't consider consequences as they are living in genuine fear.
I spent many years working amongst both these types; a big problem with the folks currently coming up with ideas for tackling youth violence & armed crime these is that they don't truely 'understand' the enemy (so to speak).

Stuart Winton said...

Mark, so if you're saying that they know the consequences but don't consider them, does this mean that you think the A&E idea would be pointless?

Mark Davies said...


The A&E idea might have some effect on the decent kids, as they really haven't throught the whole thing through, & haven't really an understanding of what a weapon will actually do to a human body; & for the most part are pretty revolted by the rality of it. It would have absolutely no effect whatsoever on the 'hard core chavs', as they quite frankly don't give a damn about concequences. The problem is that you have to get the programme in front of the kids, which is where most anti knife crime efforts collapse. I don't see it as being pointless, as if you can even get a few kids to give up carrying weapons then potentially thats saved a life & all the collateral damage that goes with a young death.