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Monday, June 23, 2008

Knife carrying in Sussex - suddenly things are fine?

Interesting knife crime-related story in the Sussex area.

Littlehampton and Bognor Regis police searched customers using night-time drinking spots in the region... and said knife-carrying was low in number.

No information was given about actual knives that were seized or the type of people that were carrying them - but in typical Sussex Police style, they like to reassure the public that they are the power in control.

It's a public relations style that the police have carried out for years - yet it was Sussex Police who also said knife carrying was prevalent in the county.

What's to believe?

Well, you've seen plenty of deaths and stabbings, you've seen the wounds, you've seen lives devastated in reports in this blog - and talk to jo public, and they say people are carrying knives. I'd say the police in Littlehampton and Bognor are wrong.

Here we go again in Sussex - battle for the messaging and communication airways; who'll win the PR battle? The police of course... they can exercise their power and cause unhappy resentment all round. Old-fashioned folk in uniform who think they can bully their opinion 'out there' into their little corner county of the world. Nothing much changes over time in Sussex it seems - everything's fine.

Right. Everything's fine with knife crime - obviously.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Knife purchases - the retail dilemma

Buying a knife is a dilemma, don't you think? Are we headed down a criminal - or at least dangerous - slope purchasing them even for legitimate reasons?

For a friend's birthday, I thought I'd buy a Swiss Army credit card-sized toolkit that incorporated a small blade. He does a great deal of DIY work and I know this toolkit will be useful to him - he will never use it for stabbing purposes. If anyone got hold of it for ulterior motives, the blade is very small (perhaps bordering on non-lethal).

When I bought it, the credit card device was on sale in a locked, secure glass cabinet. This seems like a good idea - perhaps slowing, deterring or stopping those with evil intent from making a deadly purchase. This was the shop - David Messam in East Street, Chichester - that more than three years ago sold a hunting knife to the killer who slayed Jacky Marshall at McDonalds.

A mostly responsible knife purchase perhaps - if you can call it that. To be honest, I found the whole experience very uncomfortable, bringing back memories of the terrible events that unfolded in the Chichester fast food restaurant after Shane Freer bought the hunting knife from Messam's.

I'm still sensitised by knives (not surprisingly) and I am appalled that so many knives can be offered in such an overtly marketing-led, retail way in a shop. Bold cabinets filled with gleaming blades... silent, dark, solid handles that in the wrong hands... sheesh - it just seems plain wrong.

As I was selecting the Swiss Army tool, I did start thinking how easy it would probably be to implement a licensing system for knife purchases. Buy a blade, your name is recorded as 'knife owner' in whatever town you come from. Is that workable?

This knife-buying exercise highlights the issues around blade availability. The hardware shop I bought the little toolkit from also sells pointed screwdrivers - potential weapons. Very easy to just buy one of those legitimately - they are not stored away in cabinets. Or how about a hammer? Weapons everywhere.

Looking around the city of Chichester, other places marketing knives seem limited. Couldn't any knives and other 'sharp' weapons be sold from a single outlet, and then be carefully monitored? It may not be immediately convenient but I suggest this has value to convey the importance of a 'safe society'. Sounds a little unworkable or unlikely? Perhaps at this stage - I just surface the issue.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Channel 4 joins campaign to battle knife menace

A new anti-knife crime resource is now online. Channel 4 is starting a gun and knife crime season - called "Disarming Britain" - from June 30 (Monday) at 9pm.

Video films and information are already on the website about the series - and you can contribute to a national commission set up to examine the issue of weapons carried and used on our streets.

Programmes featured in the season:
  • Street Weapons Commission - Cherie Booth heads commission to understand the weapons culture
  • Helen Newlove - widow of Garry, kicked to death near his Cheshire home
  • Teenaged, Armed and Dangerous - teenagers' accounts about carrying and using weapons
  • Fallout - drama about race and law + order, covering murders of Stephen Lawrence and Damilola Taylor
  • Police Line - a review of damage and injury caused in attacks from a doctor who treats stabbing and shooting victims

I've added a permanent link to this resource from the weapons crime resource links on this blog's right hand navigation menu.

Knife crime in the UK - thought for these violent times

"So long as governments set the example of killing their enemies, private citizens will occasionally kill theirs." - author and publisher Elbert Hubbard, 1856-1915

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Anti-knife crime - Crimestoppers 'shop a stabber' campaign

Crimestoppers anti-knife campaign - "shop a stabber". This Crimestoppers poster (shown here) encourages anyone who knows anyone carrying a knife to report them with a simple phone text.Fantastic idea - let's get texting... a few pence to finger a budding murderer, 10 killers for a quid!

Crimestoppers youth / anti-knife resources - website link

And more information about 'text a stabber' here

Knife crime peaceful protest

In one way, this weekend was heartening - thousands of young people marched through London to make a peaceful protest against knife violence, using their talents and love of life to make a point that life is for living, not ending on the point of a blade.


Parade organiser Colin Stewart said: "We are anxious to get as much positive publicity for this event so we can somehow crash into these guys' worlds and see if we can make a difference."

I watched Colin give an interview to Sky News and he was a strong voice of common sense, advocating good standing up against bad in a non-confrontational way - and clearly articulating that carrying knives is a move to the dark side.

And the prime minister Gordon Brown came out on the side of common sense saying that young people found carrying knives will end up in court.

Yet, with all these fine word and actions, stabbings apparently failed to abate with news of knife attacks making the headlines just as strongly as those people trying to stop them. This is no easy 'war on weapons'.

Important then to focus on, perhaps, the key aspect: let's support the call to "change the culture" towards knives.

This is probably the prime issue. Alter the perception about carrying blades; let's work to see the attitude about owning and wielding the damn things move from cool to cringeable, from kosher to coward.

I'm sure progress can be made here. Just like cigarettes are now 'cancer sticks' to the majority, knives used for life-maiming purposes must be shown to lack zero street credibility. The moral majority among us already know to carry knives is moronic - let's keep up the pressure.

Trouble is, those people with blades are dangerous morons. Just as armed forces act in self-defence to protect people who cannot protect themselves from those that would kill them, so must our police, youth workers and others in the front line patrol the boundaries of society, trying to keep out the hordes of nutters with knives from attacking the innocent and law-abiding.

And let's not forget the point from my previous post - adult society is as much to blame, with some poor values and attitudes on display in business and our daily lives (e.g road rage and company bullying, for instance). This should change too... when you see corporate back-stabbing, managers, public servants and business leaders willing to do their dodgy share of the dirty just to sweep up some extra cash and little focus on the human effect, that's pretty immoral and repugnant too.

The worrying trend here though is that the culture that is developing is starting to sound like some kind of Mob mentiality, closet mafiosi maturing into adult society with violent ways to get what they want. Have the football hooligan generals and foot soldiers of the past moved onto UK streets? I'm willing to bet someone a ton that at least several organised elements are milking these things for their benefit. Stories are already surfacing about how gang members see killing - stabbing or shooting as a status symbol - this is mafia territory: you can read about it on Sky News online here.

This starts to sound more and more like a battle against good and evil. Murderous thugs like these - for that's what they are - must not succeed.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Tackling knife crime + drinking with current laws

Watching Jack Straw (Labour) and Michael Gove (Tory) on BBC's Andrew Marr programme today, they were both having a cerebral-type debate about:

This kind of 'great and good' lip service aimed at solving a crisis in society will never work, imho. These people are way too remote.

I'm not sure how accurate my 'shoot from the hip' view here is, but see what you think...

Politicians, it seems, wrongly apportion too much blame on families for delinquent youth behaviour on our streets. As usual, it's relatively fortunate Tories - and now serving Government ministers - earning a comfortable living that say 'fix the family'.

Never on their radar, it seems, is the immoral / amoral business-led, greed-ridden corporate mentality that they rubber stamp regularly in Parliament which drains 'powerless' consumers (individuals, parents and young people - jo public like you and me) of their money, leaving many impoverished, with little of quality to aspire to. After all, who wants to become the average corporate slave, stabbing 'powerless' employees in the back to secure their next pay rise, promotion - that type of thing. Hardly motivating, is it?

Working closely with young people sometimes in my life, the problem seems to lay more with leading societal and business influences. You know, the types who like to line up weaker people and say to them 'you're fired' (eh, Alan Sugar 'et al'?) rather than build supportive environments for all to flourish. Does that sound a bit naive? Dunno - but just as naive is for lawmakers and business leaders to think companies exist for any other reason than pure profit. While the debate is on, I just thought I could say these things, else when can you... (no-one said life would be easy; but, good grief, there has to be some admission that adult society is at fault, not kids - they're just relative innocents.)

As long as the wealth generators and those cast as stewards of our taxes continue to practice legitimate extortion and, lest we forget, warmongering in a local, national and global theatre, we can hardly be surprised when young people - reflecting their elders oft-immoral activities at work in the world - become just like those 'thugs in suits' who lord it over others desperate to be seen as examples to follow in society.

Apologies for any offending parts of the rant there - but when you see corporate back-stabbing, managers, public servants and business leaders willing to do an (un)fair bit of dirty just to sweep up some extra cash and little focus on the human effect, it can make one a little frustrated.

Knife crime is a reflection of adult societal values and attitudes - it's obvious.
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