Reducing knife crime with a united justice system

After falling for several years, the number of crimes related to knives and other offensive weapons are now at their highest level since 2009. As well as this, injuries are becoming more severe and perpetrators are getting younger, with a fifth of those convicted last year being under the age of 18. Whilst it is easy to point the finger of blame at police numbers, the causes of violent crime are extremely complex and cannot be fixed by enforcement alone; what is needed is a collaborative effort between the entire sector to tackle the problem head on. The abiding theme of Modernising Criminal Justice Conference is that of collaboration and interoperability and though much of the day’s focus is broader than the affliction of knife crime, a united justice sector will play a vital role in putting a stop to this toxic trend.

To put the epidemic into context, increases in individual incidences of violent crime have been mirrored by a rise in levels of re-offending by 35% over the last 3 years. Those perpetuating a spiral of violent crime require attention at each touchpoint of the Justice System. New technologies both in and out of prisons can certainly help to discourage re-offending. For example, technologies such as GPS trackers on those who are recently released, or datasets paired with algorithms to predict the most likely targets. However this is not enough on its own. New support structures are needed which focus on collaboration between law enforcement, health professionals, social services & third-sector organisations. By working together to provide young people with routes out of the viscous circle of crime, the justice sector can work to stem the flow of knife & violent crime in the UK.