Prince Charles has waded into the knife crime debate by speculating about the reasons for the current crisis: ‘there is no real means for marking the transition between childhood and adulthood’, he argued yesterday: ‘of course you need something, some motivation… at that period between 14 and 19 where all the worst aspects of this knife crime seem to happen.’ Charles may be right or wrong in his diagnosis of the problem but at least he is trying to look beyond the statistics towards the root cause.
Meanwhile London’s mayor Sadiq Khan seems determined to do the opposite. His response to November’s spate of stabbings was to say that it could take a ‘generation’ to solve and to ‘really make significant progress can take up to 10 years’. Khan’s remarks betrayed an alarming attitude to one of London’s most pressing issues and he is not alone in talking about the problem as if it is unsolvable; plenty of politicians from across the political spectrum seem stumped as to what to do.
Painting knife crime out to be unsolvable in the short term might enable Khan to absolve himself of responsibility for what is happening on London’s streets. But it does nothing to help the young people affected by knife crime: there has been a 16 per cent rise in stabbings this year alone. The number of knife crimes – 40,100 is the highest it has been since the data started being recorded eight years ago.
Instead of resorting to pessimism, perhaps Khan could do with taking a leaf out of Prince Charles’ book and examine what is driving young people to pick up a knife in the first place.