Vir Cantium

I'm right, you know …

It’s Not Just the Knives

So, almost days after Jimmy Mizen’s tragic murder in Lee, comes another knife fatality. Rob Knox, stabbed in an apparent fracas at the Metro bar next to Sidcup station, was the latest addition to this year’s grim statistics. Like Mizen, but unlike many of the other knife deaths, this murder was not gang related. (This sort of event is getting closer to home: Knox’s murder took place only a couple of hundred yards from where I used to work.) Just under a year ago, of course, we had the murder of Ben Hitchcock (in what did appear to be a gang incident) in Beckenham.

Clearly, Mayor Johnson’s determination to target knife crime is right, and equally it is right that the police should be emboldened to go in hard when dealing with it, as they did a week ago in Deptford. However, whether it is fuelled by gang culture or just a more general readiness to resort to potentially lethal means of violence, measures to tackle simply the possession of knives, though right and necessary, are largely dealing with the symptoms.

What makes someone seem so ready to put a knife into another human being, knowing that there is a good chance it will kill them? If it wasn’t a knife, would Knox’s killer have simply used a broken bottle?

As with the debate on gun control, it should be remembered that knives don’t kill people, people kill people. Of course, tackling the underlying cultures will take a lot longer and a lot more than just policing. That being said, the police can play a role in demonstrating that it is unacceptable to resort to violence, whether lethal or not, on our streets or off. Part of this is to make it clear that the violence and conspiracy to commit it will be not only prosecuted (which means letting the police get on with the job) but rewarded with fitting sentences. This means that the Mayor or police alone cannot solve the problem – it goes all the way through the criminal justice system, and all the way to the top of Government.

RIP Rob Knox.

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