Collaborate to beat knife crime

Waiting for an ambulance is not a good experience. I recognise there are many pressures but was surprised to learn how much ambulance time is taken up attending violent incidents.

In 2020, they were called to 577 stabbings across Birmingham.

Between 2000 and 2012 knife crime and other violent offences fell but in recent years the trend is in the other direction. There were 37,589 recorded knife and offensive weapon crimes for the year ending September 2021, a 3% increase on the previous year. West Midlands Police recorded the highest rate in the country.

One of the more disturbing features of the current problem is the age of participants.

NHS England recently appointed its first Clinical Director for Violence Reduction because of the number of children being admitted to hospitals with life changing injuries resulting from violent conflicts, many still wearing their school uniforms.

Studies suggest young males involved in knife crime have often suffered adverse childhood experiences like physical and sexual abuse, neglect or parental separation. The main reason they give for carrying knives is selfprotection but the selling of drugs and other criminal activity is often involved.

They are likely to have been excluded from school and spend their days without structure or positive activities and often suffer poor mental health.

Tackling the level of mindless violence in society should be a priority. It isn’t easy but some things do work. We need improved cooperation between police, health and other agencies with more collaborative working.

There must be greater targeting of the ‘at risk’ category and for those who’ve already developed a fascination with knives and violence, a much more intensive and specialised level of intervention.

For some, often those with unattended mental health problems, delinquency and violence offer an addictive excitement which is hard to control. For many, however, proper structure, supervision and parental responsibility is the key to saving lives and reducing this intolerable drain on already stretched health and ambulance services.

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