Spanish David Martinez, (26 years old), has been identified as the latest fatal victim of the wave of stabbing that has overtaken the United Kingdom for some time. With him are 24 dead in incidents of this type so far this year. Last weekend, a teenager was killed after being stabbed in the back in a park in London and a 17-year-old stabbed near Manchester.
The number of homicides with knives in England and Wales rose to 285 between March 2017 and March 2018, the highest figure since 1946, and the number of homicides in general in these British territories increased by 14% in the year between September 2017 and the same month of the following year. The majority of the alleged perpetrators and the victims are males under 25 years of age. The British health service, for its part, ensures that the number of admissions for injuries caused by sharp objects has increased by 15%. Some people talk about «epidemic» and «national emergency».
What are the causes? There is no unanimity in the answer, but these are some of those that are pointed out.
The number of police officers has fallen by more than 20,000 in the last nine years. From the 143,769 in 2009 it has gone to 122,404 in March of last year, according to the latest official data available from the Department of the Interior. This is the smallest number of police officers active since 1981, although records prior to 1996 are not fully comparable.
Reduction of registrations to suspects
In the last decade there has been a decline in the use of legal powers that police have to practice the practice of “stop and search”, as it is known to stop a person suspected of carrying weapons, drugs , stolen property or anything else you can use to commit a crime. Data known last year indicated that the number of “stop and register” stereos had fallen from 1.4 million made in 2009 to 282,000 in 2017, which is 80% less.
The reason for the reduction of this practice is the fear that it was being used excessively and arbitrarily focusing on certain ethnic minorities, especially black men. The government put in place measures to limit its use in 2014, which in turn led to the creation of an updated code on how it should be used.
Lack of opportunities and social cuts
Poverty and lack of opportunities for young people and inequality are among the main reasons for the increase in stabbings. Critics of the social cuts of the Conservative Party over the last decade also point to this reason, due to the lack of resources of social services and the increase of young people in vulnerable situations.
Knife culture among teenagers
Among the most worrisome data of this increase in crime is the extension of a “knife-carrying culture” that is spreading among British children since the age at which the knife is worn is getting earlier and is already among the 13 and 17 years old.