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Knife crime needs multi-faceted approach, says CoP report

Knife crime “cannot be solved by criminal justice measures alone” and requires a more holistic and preventative strategy, according to a briefing by the College of Policing (CoP).

The CoP has released a “Knife Crime Evidence Briefing” which claims that the most successful approach is a multi-agency and public health one.

The briefing, published yesterday (Monday 6th January), is a “summary of the evidence" of methods and interventions of tackling knife crime and pulls on government strategy and research reports and experts.

It stated: “Approaches such as problem-orientated policing, focused deterrence strategies, targeting high risk offenders and early preventative work aimed at supporting potentially ‘at-risk’ individuals are most likely to be effective.”

It also stated that knife amnesties, such as Bin a Blade and Word 4 Weapons, have limited, short term impact on the issue and do not address “the motivations underlying an individual’s decision to carry knives”.

The report also stated evidence suggests a lack of trust in the police can potentially lead victims to becoming perpetrators, as “they may use violence to seek revenge instead of relying on police procedures”.

It went on to say: “Evidence suggests the most effective approaches tend to be multi-agency and multi-faceted, requiring collaboration from different fields in ‘diagnosing the problem, analysing underlying causes, examining what works and developing solutions’”.

Knife crime has reached a record high in the past few months, with some forces seeing a rise of up to 50 per cent.

One of the Conservatives campaign pledges in the run up to the December election was to “come down hard” on the “scourge” of knife crime by speeding up prosecutions for perpetrators and giving police stronger stop and search powers.

Boris Johnson’s administration has also promised 20,000 more officers and an extra 10,000 new prison places.

The CoP briefing said the impact of custodial sentences on knife crime will “need longer term evaluation”.

The CoP also championed how Scotland’s Violence Reduction Unit, whose approach involves police, social services, youth and community services, offending and probation teams, the NHS and local voluntary organisation, “seems to be achieving results” with violent crime reaching a 41 year low in 2017.

The Home Office last month announced 18 Police and Crime Commissioners will share a £35 million boost to their Violence Reduction Units.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The Government is delivering on the people’s priorities by recruiting 20,000 extra police officers, jailing violent criminals for longer and expanding stop and search powers.

“We are changing the law so that police, councils and health authorities are legally required to work together to tackle serious violence.

“We are also investing in early invention projects and Violence Reduction Units to tackle the root causes of violence and steer young people away from crime in the first place.”

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