Home > News > Llanelli Standard column…on the worrying rise in knife crime

Knife crime in England and Wales is up 74% on 2015, with record levels of knife-enabled rape and knife-enabled threats to kill. Recent incidents here in Llanelli show we are not immune locally to this problem either.

Youth violence remains high, and in the year ending September 2022, there were over 46,000 recorded offences involving a knife or sharp instrument in England and Wales, with young men most likely to be both the perpetrators and victims of this crime. Out of almost 28,000 knife possession offences over 2023, only 4 in 10 led to any formal sanction and in year ending March 2023, the number of knife offenders formally dealt with by the criminal justice system fell by 3% on the year before, despite higher levels of recorded offending.

There are no quick or easy answers but it is clear the current Conservative UK Government have taken their eyes off the ball and failed to take action to keep our streets safe.  That is why I fully support the co-ordinated Knife Crime Plan recently put forward by Labour’s Shadow Home Office Team.

The plan provides a focus on four key priorities:

Tough consequences for carrying a knife.

A Labour government will end the empty warnings and apology letters for knife possession with guaranteed sanctions and serious interventions for young people found carrying knives. Every young offender would be referred to a Youth Offending Team and have a mandatory action plan to prevent re-offending.  There would new guidance so that there is greater use of serious penalties where appropriate, such as curfews, tagging, or behavioural contracts and the use of custody in the most serious cases.

Early intervention to stop young people being drawn into crime.

A targeted programme in every area to identify young people most at risk of knife crime, bringing together services to better coordinate preventative interventions around the young person including youth workers and better youth mental health support.

Getting knives off our streets.

A total crackdown on the availability of knives on Britain’s streets – no more loopholes, no more caveats, no more false promises – including on the possession and sale of machetes, zombie-style knives and swords. A review to see where further laws are needed on online sales and new criminal sanctions on tech executives who allow knife sales on their online marketplaces, such as Amazon Marketplace, eBay and Instagram.

Ending exploitation of young people.

Introduce a new law on the exploitation of children and young people by criminal gangs, including County Lines, creating a new criminal offence of child criminal exploitation. Develop a new serious organised crime strategy to go after the gangs making millions from the exploitation of children and young people in our communities.

Knife crime can only be properly dealt with by truly bringing local communities together.  That includes political leaders, faith leaders, families of victims of knife violence from across the country, sporting bodies, technology companies, police and young people themselves. 

We all have a role to play in tackling knife crime and keeping young people safe.