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We know how to stop knife crime, so why don’t we do it?

We know hoe to stop knife crime, so why don't we do it?

In the last five years in the UK, more than 100 children have died from knife wounds, devastating the lives of families, friends and communities. So, what can be done to stop knife crime?

On Monday night, Jon Yates, Executive Director at the Youth Endowment Fund, presented Radio 4’s Analysis programme to investigate: We know how to stop knife crime, so why don’t we do it?

Jon starts his journey in Glasgow. Once dubbed ‘the murder capital of Europe’, he speaks to Karyn McCluskey, who founded Scotland’s Violence Reduction Unit with John Carnochan , Graeme Armstrong and Karen Timoney to hear about the harsh realities of life in 90’s Glasgow and how the city’s fortunes were changed.

We were overwhelmed with people who just wanted a route out.

Karyn McCluskey

As highlighted in Glasgow, stopping knife crime isn’t just about policing. It’s about providing support to young people on the edges of violence. One of the effective ways to do this is through mentoring. Jon visits South London to speak to Jhemar Jonas about the difference it made after losing his brother.

Young people that end up perpetrating are often those who feel very alone when they feel violated. They don’t have an adult to open up and talk to. So it just explodes in a moment of bad decision making. That’s the important role mentoring, but also having supportive adults around you can play.

Ciaran Thapar – Jhemar’s mentor

With the availability of evidence about what works, what’s stopping more money being invested? Jon visits former Home Secretary Sajid Javid to ask why effective interventions, like therapy or mentoring, aren’t being rolled out systematically.

…within the ‘Government machine’, getting the priorities right for everyone working together can be tough. Not least because of the finances.

But is it as simple as investing in what works? Speaking to Jon, Luke Billingham, youth worker and researcher, highlights the importance of addressing the underlying factors driving violence, alongside researching individual interventions and programmes.

There’s a dystopia inherent in a focus on ‘what works’. Which is that those things that structurally, predictively breed violence, inequality, poverty, tension with families, ineffective criminal justice system…are getting worse.

Luke Billingham

Finally, Jahnine Davis, Director of Listen Up, highlights that as well as looking at what research says, it’s important to look at who’s responsible for commissioning and interpreting research and the biases this brings.

…we need to hear from those community-led, based organisations – we need to see them, we need to know who they are and also we need to see those who are leading that space too.

Listen to the programme

The full programme ‘We know how to stop knife crime, so why don’t we do it?‘ is available on BBC Sounds.

Find what works to prevent knife crime

You can find out more about the interventions mentioned in this programme in the YEF Toolkit.

Estimated impact approaches evidence quality
(30%+ less violence)
Focused deterrence
1 2 3 4 5
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
1 2 3 4 5
Trauma-specific therapies  
1 2 3 4 5
(10%-30% less violence)
Hot spots policing
1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5
Knife surrender schemes
1 2 3 4 5
Media campaigns
1 2 3 4 5
Police in schools
1 2 3 4 5

Thank you

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the making of this programme:

  • Karyn McCluskey, Chief Executive, Community Justice Scotland
  • Karen Timoney, Director, KDT Wellness
  • Graeme Armstrong, author of The Young Team
  • Laura Knight, Toolkit and Evidence Engagement Lead, Youth Endowment Fund Gavin Stephens, Chair, National Police Chiefs’ Council
  • Lawrence Sherman, Chief Scientific Officer, Metropolitan Police
  • Jhemar Jonas, youth worker and musician
  • Ciaran Thapar, youth worker and author of Cut Short
  • Thomas Abt, Founding Director, Center for the Study and Practise of Violence Reduction at the University of Maryland; author of Bleeding Out
  • Sajid Javid, Conservative MP for Bromsgrove, former Home Secretary
  • Luke Billingham, youth worker and researcher
  • Jahnine Davis, Director, Listen Up Read less
  • Dr Elaine Williams, Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Greenwich University

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