Knife crime could become epidemic warns East Devon MP

PUBLISHED: 08:46 19 March 2019 | UPDATED: 17:04 27 March 2019

East Devon MP Sir Hugo Swire.

East Devon MP Sir Hugo Swire.

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In his latest column, Sir Hugo Swire has been sharing his thoughts on the rise in knife crime

Knife crime could become an ‘epidemic’ unless the causes are targeted says East Devon MP Sir Hugo Swire.

In his latest column, Sir Hugo has been giving his thoughts on the rise of knife crime in the UK.

He said: “Apart from Brexit the other story that has hit the headlines recently is the increase in knife crime.

“This is not restricted to our inner cities, exclusions at Devon’s schools have increased by 45 per cent since 2013 and police chiefs have warned the national trend could be contributing to a surge in knife crime in the county.

“The Sidmouth Herald recently reported on two pupils being excluded after a student took a knife to Ottery St Mary’s The Kings School.

“As a Government we are working to address this.

“First, by using early predictors of involvement in youth violence such as truancy, signs of aggression and involvement in anti-social behaviour, substance misuse and family factors like parental criminality or domestic violence in the home.

“And we are Introducing Knife Crime Prevention Orders to prevent vulnerable young people from becoming involved in knife possession and knife crime.

“These will be able to be imposed on anyone who police believe is carrying a knife, are habitual knife carriers or people previously convicted of a knife related offence.

“It is of course true that the causes of the increase in knife crime are complicated and various.

“Different people blame different causes; gangs, new patterns of drug dealing, school exclusions, the reduction of stop-and-search powers, the influence of social media in turning it into a fashion.

“And there is no certain answer as to how these factors associate with each other.

“The important thing now is that unless these factors are targeted they could become epidemic.

“The interesting model to look at is Glasgow in 2005.

“Back then the city was described by the World Health Organisation as the ‘murder capital of Europe’.

“The authorities there looked at other cities facing similar problems around the world and came up with a Violence Reduction Unit or VRU, which considered violence as something similar to a communicable disease that only spread if the conditions were right for it.

“So if you change the conditions – homes, schools, street – you stop the disease.

“What it means is agencies coming together and forming a strategy. Statistics say the approach has worked and homicides have halved in Glasgow.

“London is now doing something similar. And every county, including Devon, should follow suit.”

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