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2023-June-4  18:09

Almost 35,000 Children in UK Arrested for Knife Crimes in 10 Years

TEHRAN (FNA)- More than seven children a day aged between 10 and 15 were arrested last year on suspicion of knife crime, new Home Office figures revealed.

In total, 2,819 children in that age bracket were arrested at some point last year for either using or possessing a knife or other bladed implement such as a screwdriver. Some 438 of those had either been arrested previously or had received a police caution. Since 2012, a total of 34,845 young boys and girls have been detained by police relating to knife crime. One in eight of those had prior interaction with the police, according to the new data, The Daily Mail reported. 

The figures peaked in 2019 with 4,064 arrests in the young age group.  

These latest figures show further evidence in support of the knife-crime epidemic affecting young people across the UK. 

A report by the Office for National Statistics in 2021/22 showed the number of people killed by a knife was the highest for the 76 years - with teenage boys aged 16 and 17 showing the greatest level of increase. 

Patrick Green, chief executive of anti-knife crime charity the Ben Kinsella Trust which was set up in 2008 following the fatal stabbing of 16-year-old Ben in North London, cited the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason for knife crime rising faster amongst teenagers than any other age group.

Green said, "As we emerged from COVID restrictions and those restrictions were lifted, we were seeing more evidence of young people made more vulnerable by COVID.

"Gangs are particularly good at picking up on vulnerabilities, are quick to pick them up and indeed lure young people and exploit them in criminal acts," he said, adding, "We think there could be a link there."

Official statistics, according to Green showed that knives or other sharp objects were used in 75 percent of teenage murders compared with 40 percent of adult killings. 

Through education workshops in London and Nottingham, Green said the trust has seen a "notable difference" in interactions with young people after the pandemic.

He added, "Some feel less secure in their community spaces, more worried. We know that fear is a factor…in terms of carrying a knife. It’s one of the motivations. They feel safe carrying a knife and that alleviates the fear."

Green went on to say that solutions must tackle 'a range of drivers for knife crime that reach deep into our society.

"We’ve got to not only tackle drugs and gangs, we’ve also got to tackle school exclusions, we’ve also got to tackle mental health provisions for young people," he added.

Ben was murdered 15 years ago. A generation of people have grown up in knife crime. We probably need to put in place the measures to eradicate knife crime for at least a generation. This isn’t a sticking plaster, we need a cure," he said.

He added, "The pervasiveness of knife crime has been underestimated for too long. We need a more robust public health response to tackle this problem or else we will continue to lose precious young lives to this heinous crime.'

In London during 2020, 106 people were murdered, among those were 13 teenage boys - a 56 per cent drop on the 30 killed in 2019. 

Although, since Sadiq Khan was first elected as Mayor of London, more than 150 teenage boys have been killed by knives or other sharp objects. 

The most recent, at the time of writing, was Renell Charles, a 16 year old boy who was knifed to death in Waltham Forest on May 5.  

Khan took office at City Hall on May 9, 2016. Student Matthew Kitandwe, 18, who had represented Uganda at football at youth level, became the first teenager to be murdered in London following Khan's election when he stabbed to death in Battersea, South London, on June 21 that year,

Since then another 150 teenagers have been murdered in the capital.

The 100th teenager to be murdered since Khan became Mayor, 19-year-old Eltom Mohamed Eltom, was fatally stabbed in Queen's Park, West London, on October 31, 2020.

That grim milestone was reached four years and five months into Khan's time as Mayor, two years and three months quicker than under the reign of his Tory predecessor Boris Johnson.

A total of 118 teenagers were murdered in London during the eight years that Johnson was Mayor from May 4th, 2008, to May 9th, 2016.

The 100th teenager to be murdered while Johnson was Mayor was killed in January 2015, six years and eight months into his time in charge at City Hall.

Of the 151 teenagers killed while Khan has had the reins at City Hall, 129 have been stabbed and 15 shot while seven were killed by other means. Six of the 151 victims were girls.

One victim was Jodie Chesney, 17, who was knifed in an unprovoked "drug feud" attack in a park in Harold Hill, East London in March 2019. 

Kearne Solanke and Charlie Bartolo, both aged 16, were found with stab wounds in Titmuss Avenue, Thamesmead, and Sewell Road, Abbey Wood, in Greenwich in November last year, prompting a double murder investigation.

The five youngest victims were just 14-years-old while 16 were 15-year-olds, and 25 were aged 16.

Last month, Ryan Biddiss, 28, released photographs of shocking images of weapons he has discovered while working as a former youth worker in Woolwich, South London. 

He is running an amnesty - Protect Our Children - to encourage people to hand over their weapons in an effort to make the city's streets safer. 

Biddiss, who lives in the South-East London district, said, "All the weapons I've collected are powerful and frightening."

"Some of the stuff is really shocking, and the weight of them is very scary. Parents call me up after they've found weapons in kids' play parks," he said, adding, "Sometimes grandparents or parents who have found them hidden in kids' bedrooms; sometimes it's young people handing them in."

"People are scared, and people handing them in are frightened of repercussions," he said, adding, "But I'm careful to protect them, because I want to encourage more people to hand weapons over."

Biddiss, who is starting a career in security, said zombie knives - inspired by sci-fi films - are among the scariest weapons he's handled."

He has also been handed a medieval flail - which has two spiked metal balls on a wooden pole - and double-handed "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle" blades.

Zombie knives and machetes can easily be bought online with no checks. In March this year it was revealed that ministers were considering a change to weapon legislation to stop gangs exploiting legal loopholes. 

Policing Minister Chris Philp is set to rewrite laws to make it an offence to sell the huge blades online or in high street shops and to possess them in the home.

Biddiss said he is running his weapon amnesty are in memory of those who have fallen victim to horrific murders in the area.

Fusilier Lee Rigby, 25, was savagely murdered in broad daylight by two extremists as he walked back to Woolwich Barracks in South East London on May 22, 2013, where he was based. 

Tamim Ian Habimana, 15, was also murdered in the area. He was stabbed in the heart by a 16-year-old in a revenge attack in Vincent Road, Woolwich, on July 5 2021.

Biddiss also lost his father to cancer three years ago, inspiring him to take action and make a difference.

He said, "My dad dying just broke me. And I'll never forget the day Lee Rigby was killed. It was awful."

I saw Tamim Ian Habimana's mum. That brought me to tears. I knew I needed to do something," he said, adding, "I meet families bereaved because of knife crime as part of my work promotion."

"It's really powerful when they hug you - you feel all that emotion and you know the work is extremely important," he added.

Ryan set up accounts on social media - such as @pocpatrol21 on Instagram - two years ago.

He now has more than 3,000 followers and is working with the Metropolitan Police to encourage people with weapons to message or call him, he said.

He then asks for pictures of the items so he can plan how to keep safe at the hand over, and how to carry them safely.

Ryan lets police know the rough area he is collecting from so he has backup if needed, and so they know what he's carrying and where. But he keeps all the details of the address and the person to himself. Sometimes the police meet Ryan to collect weapons from him, he said. But if there's going to be a wait, he carries weapons to the nearest station.

Ryan estimated he has recovered over 30 weapons from the streets so far, including three this month.

He said, "I really want to be a part of making London safer. It is potentially dangerous for me - it could go wrong."

"The police know what I'm carrying and they give me a special number," he said, adding, "I have to take the shortest route from where I am to the police station."