As Hainault attack victim is named, data shows knife crime on the rise

The sword attack in Hainault has reignited conversations about the UK's knife crime problem, especially in the capital.

The 14-year-old killed has been named as Daniel Anjorin and a man has been charged with his murder.

Data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) last week shows that knife crime increased by 7% from the year ending December 2022 to December 2023 and has increased by 81% in the past decade.

Why is this happening?

Explanations for the rise in knife crime have been linked in part to police budget cuts, falling officer numbers and decreases in youth services.

"We've seen austerity cuts which have decimated youth services," said Patrick Green, CEO of the Ben Kinsella trust.

"Youth services play a phenomenal part in reducing knife crime because they take young people off the streets, put them into positive activities and get them in front of positive mentors who have a significant influence on their lives."

Research from the National Youth Agency shows that youth services have been cut by 77% over more than a decade.

Police officer numbers have also been falling.

Giving evidence to the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee in February this year about police numbers, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said: "Where we anticipate being at the end of March is around 34,000 i.e. around 1,400 light.

"We anticipate our projection for the next year based on current application levels, recruiting levels etc, unless we can make a sharp movement in that, is for that to drop by approximately another 1,250.

"So we would expect to be at 32,750 roughly at the end of March 2025.

"Now that is deeply concerning to me."

Where is knife crime happening the most?

London and the West Midlands have some of the highest levels of knife-related crime in England and Wales.

Knife-related crimes recorded by the Met Police were up by a fifth from 2022 to 2023 and up by 8% in the West Midlands.

Three in 10 knife-related crimes were recorded in London in 2023, with 165 knife crimes per 100,000 people and for the West Midlands this was 118 per 100,000.

What weapons are being used and who's being killed?

Sharp instruments including kitchen knives, swords and machetes were the most common method of killing, for both male and female victims in the year ending March 2023, making up two-fifths of all killings in the UK.

Killings by sharp objects have consistently been the most prominent killing method for the past 10 years.

While the attacker on Tuesday used a sword to carry out his attack, data from the Home Office shows that this is largely uncommon when it comes to killings with sharp objects.

The most commonly used sharp object was kitchen knives, with more than 100 murders using them in 2023.

While the attacker yesterday used a sword, they accounted for just three sharp object killings in 2023.

On yesterday's attack, Mr Green said: "What we've seen from the photographs is something that's disturbing.

"We think it is right to ban these weapons before they become more used in attacks, rather than the government's position - which is to wait and review - and I think, given the tragic case of yesterday, that's evidence enough that we should be considering banning these weapons."

Critics say weapons like swords, machetes and zombie knives are easy to obtain.

"It's incredibly easy," said Mr Green. "All you need is access to a computer or a debit card and by simply doing some searches on Google or go into some social media platforms, you'll quickly find that you are presented with a range of options in terms of purchase of large knives and swords."

Young men are most likely to be affected. Nearly a fifth of people killed by sharp objects in 2023 were men aged between 18 and 24.

"Males particularly tend to be risk takers. There are a number of factors around brain development as well. Until we get into our early 20s, our brains haven't fully formed and the connection between risk and consequences doesn't fully form," said Mr Green.

"It's a time when we need good people around us for mentoring, good people around us to give us advice and if you're unfortunate not to have those people around you, you're more likely to come into situations which are far more risky. The more good people you have around you, the better decisions you will make through that early part of your life," added Mr Green.

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