Knife crime has been deemed a national crisis in the UK following a number of incidents in the last few months. Today, the BBC published a list of the first 100 victims of knife crime of 2019, compared to 2017 whereby there were nine knife crime victims from January to June. In accordance with this, many politicians have been debating this issue in the media, with most of them suggesting an increase in policing and prisons. But once again, it is clear our politicians have not got this one quite right.
Alex Beresford, the ITV Good Morning Britain weatherman, interrupted a knife crime debate whilst Police Federation chair John Apter was advocating building more prisons to tackle the growing issue of knife crime. Beresford responded to this saying that “prison is not a deterrent” and that the root of the problem comes with showing children from disadvantaged areas that there is another option.
He later posted a longer video on social media explaining his position further, making an insightful point that the ongoing debates surrounding issues like knife crime rarely represent the community in question.
“Whenever we have these debates on television, you often find that the people being debated are not always represented on the programme.”
It seems as though the guests on these kinds of debates are disassociated from the issues themselves and deliver resolutions from an isolated political perspective. What is vital, as Beresford mentions, is including representatives from these communities to give a better insight into the issue at hand.
Knife crime was also debated on BBC Question Time on Thursday; again, the non-politician gave the most eloquent and insightful answer. Javad Khan, the chief executive of Bernardo’s charity, said it would be a ‘mistake’ to believe that an increase in police officers alone would resolve the issue of knife crime. He delivers a persuasive case to increase funding in youth spaces, community centres and to end the “poverty of hope”.
The kind of role models which should be debating this contentious topic are Faron Alex Paul, a knife crime victim who now meets with young people and exchanges their knives for shopping vouchers and hands them in to the police.
After this video was published by the BBC last year, it is not until recently that Faron has appeared back in the media with an interview with Sky News. We need to stop listening to politicians about these kind of issues, and turn to those who have experienced it first hand and are taking an active role to prevent violent crime.
It is clear that the government are buying into their Conservative rhetoric of law and order without giving knife crime a more holistic look. What must be investigated is the education system, community funding and the equal representation of speakers in the media.