Sunday, May 28, 2006

Perhaps the police magazine should be renamed?

Considering the current media obsession with 'flavour of the month' knife crime, it's quite ironic that the Home Office's very own pisspoor piece of police propaganda is a magazine called 'The Sharp End'!

As predicted, the knife amnesty is just a futile publicity stunt, and anyone with even a quasi-functional brain will realise that any such amnesties always will be. As I wrote elsewhere, those most likely to use knives are not going to suffer a sudden attack of conscience and hand in the weapons, partly motivated by the fact that they will not be prosecuted if they do. Knives come in all shapes and sizes, are simple to get hold of and can be very easy to conceal, and are the perfect tool for any criminal.

Meanwhile, the media would appear to make out that there has suddenly been an epidemic in stabbings nationwide. I'm inclined to disagree. Knife crime is round about the normal levels, which are frequent anyway. There's two reasons why there's a perceived increase:

1. The knife amnesty, surrounding press and certain high-profile incidents have increased people's awareness of knife crime, as opposed to an increase in knife crime itself. Therefore, people read about nominally reported knife incidents more often than they would have done.

2. The press are giving more attention to knife incidents, quite possibly to show that the amnesty is a waste of time and that serious action needs to be taken. Good on them too, for once.

So what serious action should be taken? Banning sales of knives is a waste of time - people will just import them or get them elsewhere. The punishments for carrying knives should be increased. Possession of a bladed article, without a satisfactory defence (statutory or otherwise) should have a minimum term of five years. This will deter the opportunist criminal, or the criminal normally less inclined to carry a knife but will do so because of the limited punishment currently afforded by the system (I've seen people get small fines and conditional discharges for carrying knives before).

This, however, won't deter the criminal who carries and uses knives on a regular basis. In this instance I suggest that police firearms officers be granted firearms authority against offenders carrying knives. Ultimately, they are life-threatening weapons, are VERY difficult and dangerous to forcibly disarm at close range (so much so that we are not taught knife disarming techniques during training) and present serious threats to all involved. Therefore, if an ARV is able to be called out to a man with a knife, and have authority to use lethal force if need be, then that will also serve to send out a message that carrying a knife has very serious consequences. I'm not saying that it'll end the problem, but it'll at least provide short-term remedies on a job-by-job basis. I can't think of any long-term solutions, and I don't think there are any - we've been using knives and similar instruments for several thousand years. We're not going to end the culture in five.

Thoughts or comments welcome.

(c) Bow Street Runner. None of the material contained in this post, or this blog as a whole, may be reproduced without the express and written permission of Bow Street Runner. All rights reserved.
I have had to deal with someone having a go with a knife twice in the last two years.

I have sprayed one of them and pegged the other.

If this was not effective I would have gone for his head without a second thought.

you are right,our response to knife incidents should be more robust with "hard stops" being used against suspects.

incidentally, 10yrs ago in my force an ARV did shoot a knifeman dead when he took a hostage. We had a similar situation last month but that was resolved with TASER deployment, a tactic not avaliable back then.
I was surprised to hear that you are not taught knife disarming techniques. Is this the case in many forces ? I was taught basic, empty-hands techniques a special, to be used as a last resort. One of the principles was "expect to be cut" so this course of action was obviously well down the list of choices !
shhzz dont let people know that bugger all knifes have been handed in ¬_¬

oh .. and where is "my" taser.. oh yes sorry forgot there are more of them in the hands of the public than us... oh dear
Wow, amazing to read a 'knife control' debate. We in the US are so forever re-arguing the 2nd Amendment every other yeat that 'knife control' instead of 'gun control' sounds, well, cute. Sorry, I know it's a serious issue in the UK, but wow :)
um, that's 'year' not 'yeat' long long day :(
oh yes, and the kind of 'go' that perps have had at cops with knives, as you describe, would be answered with a weapon fired by a cop in the US, as I'm sure you are aware of. I just repeat it because I find it so amazing that you are not - correct me if I'm wrong - allowed to carry a firearm. Or maybe you are not at certain levels or carrying out certain tasks. This all seems so strange and needless to me.

Anywya, thanks for reading my ramblings :)
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