Some of the UK’s major cities have experienced a crisis in recent weeks with a spate of stabbings occurring.
Birmingham, the UK’s second largest city, has had 3 fatal stabbings in recent weeks with Sidali Mohamed, Abdullah Muhammad and Hazrat Umar all being killed. Just days later, a 16-year-old was stabbed outside of a charity shop.
In response to these stabbings, West Midland’s Police Chief Constable Dave Thompson, who also has responsibilities for Wolverhampton, Coventry and the Black Country, has announced an unprecedented stop and search initiative in the West Midlands. This is a first for the second-city which has never had stop and search in place before.
Chief Constable Thompson announced the initiative by describing it as “widespread and blunt” and noted that it would “upset some innocent young people.”
The Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands David Jamieson described the stabbings as a “national emergency” and asked the Home Secretary Sajid Javid to give West Midlands Police a special policing grant to help tackle the problem.
At the same time that the Chief Constable and Police and Crime Commissioner were speaking, a man was stabbed at Aston University campus not far from where they were. The victim, described by police as a “29-year-old man”, was taken to hospital with serious injuries. It is unknown if he was a student at the university or not. The attack occurred on Aston University’s Lakeside campus, close to student accommodation, with part of the campus being cordoned off.
Manchester has also seen a victim of knife crime as 17-year-old Yousef Makki was killed. He has been described by Manchester Grammar School as a “dearly loved, incredibly bright pupil.”
London has also seen a spate of knife crime in recent weeks. The 18th death so far in the capital is 17-year-old Jodie Chesney, described by friends as the “nicest person.”
Furthermore, with Runshaw College in Lancashire being threatened by a group of males armed with knives, and knife crime doubling in Sheffield within the last nine years, this is clearly a nationwide issue.
In response, Home Secretary Sajid Javid has condemned the “senseless violence” and called a meeting on Wednesday of police chiefs in an effort to look at how to counter the violence.
Theresa May has come under fire for suggesting that there is no link between knife crime and policing cuts.
Critics argue that the cuts to youth services and police numbers are key factors in increasing knife crime. When asked about the knife crime attacks on LBC radio, Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said that knife crime was down compared to last year, identifying that there have been 20 homicides this year versus 29 last year. She also said that there must be some link between violent crime and police numbers falling.
At the start of 2019, the UK Youth Parliament launched their ‘Action Against Knife Crime’, calling on the Government to review its current approach as they argue, backed up by a report from the Centre for Crime and Justice, that stop and search has no real impact on knife crime. The Youth Parliament is arguing for a public health approach which will acknowledge that violence is “strongly associated with social determinants.”