How Knife Crime is Tearing London's Future Down
Two weeks ago I published an insensitive, senseless, rushed, poorly planned article that I knew was unacceptable to release from the beginning; I can only apologise repeatedly for this and hope that it can either be forgiven or put aside for now by any of those who it offended. My views looked completely distorted, and for this reason I've re-written the article so you can all actually see how I feel in complete context and although not all the detail (that would make for a thesis not an article), a good amount of it. Hopefully this one is better than last.
In early February, 2019 the Met Police released a set of figures that revealed that 41 percent of those being arrested for knife crimes across London are between the age of 15 and 19; between year 10 and their first year at Uni. Additionally, it is reported that female knife possessions have risen by 73% in England between 2014 and 2018.This year in August, an 18-year-old died in Newham after being stabbed. In September, a 15 year old was stabbed to death in a skatepark. At the beginning of October another 15 year old was stabbed to death outside a shopping centre. And on the 2nd of November, two 16-year-olds were stabbed in Station Parade, both taken to hospital. Let that resonate with you. In the London boroughs of Westminster, Southwark, and Haringey, combined there were 2,526 knife-related offences between 2018 and 2019.
The government have failed to protect the young people of London, the future of their establishment. Budget cuts made by them are responsible for demolishing youth services and the prominence of the Police; on average local councils have reduced spending on youth workers, social clubs and basic upkeep of facilities by by roughly 40%, and there have been findings by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) that areas who experience the largest cuts to youth facilities and schemes have seen the most significant rise in knife crime. As well as this, however less significant, Scotland Yard received a 20% slash to their budget which immediately cut the amount of patrolling officers on the streets of London, statistics show that London has 21,000 less patrolling officers compared to 2010, the lowest number on the record. Taking that many officers off the streets will evidently have consequences to the frequency of street crime, and that can be predicted purely using common sense. The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police said herself that the Met were "Absolutely, clearly not on top of the issue." in the BBC Documentary 'The Met: Policing London' and we're expected to have complete faith in them?
So the major question is "Why is Knife Crime now rising?" and it all logically makes sense. The rise in Knife Crime has a an incredibly large correlation with drug dealing, social media and gang activity. So, how can instagram and snapchat cause knife crime to spiral? Petty arguments that start in the comment section of someone's photo, move to DM, and then eventually expand are often resolved by violence, and in some cases, knife-related offences occur, it may seem foreign but it is the truth. A lot of the time these young people are involved in gangs; for young people who are vulnerable and often very conflicted there can be an immense underlying pressure from peers to join gangs; in an interview with The Independent, a former member perfectly put it "Young people feel abandoned and they see gangs as a form of protective service." Gangs provide some young people with fraternity, an identity, and many recognise their gang as their family. In my opinion gangs are an illusive safety net; they are part of a terrible package deal. And, in chain, by being in a gang it is highly likely that young men and women who have been exploited by elders will carry knives to protect themselves; however, one only puts themselves more at risk whilst carrying a weapon of any kind, risk of 'Ops', oppositions, or risk of the Police themselves, for if stop-and-searched they could land themselves in Jail with a sentence, potentially ruining their life, and if they end up using it or threatening it not only could they be injured themselves by others, but that places them in incredible danger on the streets.
However, there is also a cultural influence on knife crime, and I mentioned it in my first post; the glamorisation of a gang lifestyle and culture only enhances the attractiveness to gangs. Those involved in gangs tend to be less fortunate, and gangs usually control poverty-stricken areas, however the ring leaders tend to be blessed with wealth, but illegitimate wealth, wealth gained at the expense of others. The outlook of many people is "If that is a way to make money then that's the way I'll make money too." It's all part of the package deal: community, wealth, validation, but the potential risk of your own life is never really considered to the same extent. Within UK music, artists see the stabbings they've committed as an incredible achievement, one that others could never reach; young people idolise these artists hugely and mirror their own actions, so by listening to this music it could only push them to join gangs themselves.
Music is a huge part of the majority of people's everyday life, and it's scientifically proven that it has an ability to change our mindset. The lyrics of certain songs resonate with us and if you listen to a specific genre or song constantly then the notion of that particular music begins to have a more long-term impact on behavioural patterns. As well as this, drill music provides gangs with ways to cause tensions between themselves, such as OFB. Therefore, if drill music is listened to incessantly then someone could allow that to stick to them, and the lyrics are majority of the time incredibly graphic and sometimes dauntingly aggressive.
"ZT ain't safe in the N9 after nine that's why the Niners still hiding."
Listen Up PT.2, Bandokay & SJ (OFB), Frontstreet
"In skengs we trust, in drillings and drillings."
4 Corn Freestyle, Smuggzy Ace
"Bae said I'm too bloodthirsty, I leave my pillow at night to get lurky."
Oneder, Headie One
"Caramel heard that 23 popping now she wan' hang with the gang With a opp block dot-dot boppin now your girlfriend wan hang"
The Coldest Link Up, S White (feat. 13 more), The Start
Ultimately, In my opinion, if these men are idolised by the young people who are surrounded by gang culture and provocative social media activity then it is probable that they may not cause a young person to join a gang or conduct violence, but influence their decision in some sort of way. However, I know that they aren't to blame, but my firm belief is that they have power over the decisions of some of these young men and women.
Knife Crime is spiralling completely, and it is now clear that even after relentless schemes our government cannot find the correct combination of solutions to actually do anything influential and make the change that they were tasked to make. That's why I think young people of all ages now need to start getting involved a lot more to raise the awareness about the seriousness of knife crime and the decimating impacts it has on families. When one person loses their life, around ten others get a piece of them taken with that person; it's a horrendous way to be taken from the world.
If so many of you can take a whole day off school to go out and protest about the climate, causing more disturbance when the police could be focusing on things such as people your age being stabbed to death on the streets, then I am sure you can take some time to read statistics and re-share things you find about the severity of knife crime and deaths of young people in London today. And, if you know someone carrying a knife or involved in gang-related activity, you can help them. Charities such as Catch 22 provide support for young people in danger of gangs, as well as Safer London, who provide support for 16-24 year olds across all boroughs of London. You can try and reach out to your friend, acquaintance, whoever, but even if you have the faintest concern, you should always reach out, because unless someone lets them know that its okay to want exit, some people never will. I understand that for some they become too immersed in the life that they've created, but trying to pull them out of it no matter how difficult, is completely necessary.
The government have a huge amount of responsibility as well; they urgently need to re-arrange the budget and prioritise investing in youth services and facilities, social care and the educational system; increase opportunities for training for young people to find work in the future; work with families and communities to support them through the incredibly difficult time, allowing areas to be educated on the deeper understanding of knife crime and allow young people to be rehabilitated more easily as well as decreasing future involvement; and most importantly they need to listen to the young people of London and the UK.
I currently, and sadly, don't have complete trust in the authorities to help this city find an improvement in knife crime; the repeated failure to tackle the issue is widespread across the UK but London has been hit incredibly hard and knife crime has casted a dark shadow over the majority of things in our day-to-day. The tensions on the streets are much higher, and talks about weapons have been normalised between friends, whether someone you know is carrying or you happen to be yourself, it isn't that uncommon now, and that is a huge problem. Therefore London has to reshape its ways, and as the future generation we have to help.
Don't be the person who turns a blind eye to people your age being killed weekly
Organisations improving Knife Crime in London:
Ben Kinsella was 16-years-old when he lost his life, stabbed to death in 2008 in Islington by 3 other teenagers after being followed home one night.