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General*
Windows Bob - the best!
Thu 10th Jul '08 4:44PM
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7th Apr '03
An interesting article which suggests that despite the hysterical tone of the media knife crime hasn't actually risen in the past little while.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/jul/10/knifecrime.ukcrime1?gusrc=rss&feed=uknews

I have wondered this myself. People feel like there is a lot of knife crime in the UK because it's in the papers everyday, but the reason why that has changed isn't that there is more knife crime its just that it didn't used to be deemed newsworthy.

The theory put forward by Malcolm Gladwell in Tipping Point suggests that the media hype will actually serve to increase the amount of stabbings. Apparently the suicide rate goes up every time there is a high profile suicide in the press so one could assume the same would be true for stabbings.
    

Demian*
Oh Lordy, Plegaleggole
Thu 10th Jul '08 6:05PM
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I'm astonished at the Telegraph being the paper to point out that most of this is due to media hype, since they're little better than a right-wing rag themselves, and spend most of their column inches on 'hell in a handbasket' articles. Since it's the best entry-level cryptic crossword I buy it most days but usually can't bring myself to actually read the insides.

An article on the radio the other day was saying that although the 'crime spiralling out of control' is media-led crap as we know, there has been a significant shift in the age of victims - the overall rate of violent crime has stayed the same, but it is now more focused on youngsters, making the rest of us actually safer!


Gordon Brown's forthcoming policies on 'knife crime' are just another example of this government's continual criminalization of things which could lead to breaking a real law. I wonder how they're going to draw the line if I were to carry, for example, a sheet of metal with a sharp edge. Is that a knife? What about a letter opener? A knife with a blunt edge? A comb with pointy teeth?

Given this government's passion for making criminals out of us all I presume it will soon be illegal to carry any sort of tool or item weighing more than a certain amount, as it could be used to bludgeon someone. Also, items under a certain size could be used to choke someone if forced down their throat. In fact, all items carry some risk so maybe they should just outlaw pockets, bags and the use of opposable thumbs, it'd be safer all round.

I sometimes wonder what society will be like when every last risk has been identified and legislated against. If we live in a society where it's not actually possible to take a risk by crossing a road, or eating something which may have once been in the same room as a peanut, how are we going to deal with a) travelling to other, saner societies, and b) new risks arising from new innovation. It's a bit like the way we've inflicted allergies and asthma on most of the population by sterilising all our children with antibacterial products. Without some sort of exposure to risk, we'll never be able to identify it or adapt to it, thus ultimately making our society far less safe in the face of anything unusual, unexpected or originating outside our society.
  

Spanners*
Misses his big brother :(
Thu 10th Jul '08 8:28PM
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Well said Demian!
All of this is just that classic governmental stance of treating the symptoms not the disease. They're fighting the problems with criminalising anything that could be regarded as a weapon whist completely disregarding the issue of why people are motivated to commit these crimes in the first place.
We shouldn't be focusing so single-pointedly on removing pointy things from the hands from the scallies, we should be working with them to lower their scally leanings.
    

Amanshu*
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Thu 17th Jul '08 6:15PM
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Although I generally agree with what you're saying Demian, I think it's a more complicated issue than you're making out.

Yes, in the wrong hands anything can be a weapon and so trying to ban anything that could be used as a weapon quickly reduces it to absurd levels - "no, you can't have shoe laces, you might use them to garotte someone". However in this case they're moving against carrying something which definitely is a weapon. Yes this might work against people who are carrying them for a valid reason (a gutting knife for fishing, a diving knife for scuba diving are a couple of examples I can think of) you can equally broaden the definition to an absurd level. "Yes officer, I know it's a six foot broadsword but it's only for ornamentation. I wouldn't plan on using it on anyone..."

Yes, banning knives is attacking the symptom rather than the cause, but I can't think of a single cause that can be tackled in the short term. Symptom's can at least be worked on now and although they don't provide a long term solution they might (hopefully) work for long enough for a more permanent solution to kick in.

I'm not really surprised that averages of knife crime holding steady nationally, and I'm ever less surprised that it's a victim of media-hype, but honestly what difference does that make? It is there and it is happening, and surely it would be irresponsible to completely ignore it?

I'm not saying that the government's solution is the best one (or even a good one) but at least it's something to start the ball rolling. Ultimately attitudes need to be changed so that nobody thinks it is acceptable to take a knife with them, either as a status symbol or some measure of self-defence.

However on a completely different note, I'd be interested to see that list of news worthy stories in comparison to today. I'd like to know what isn't as important now because I'd imagine it would give an interesting take on how society has changed...
   

General*
Windows Bob - the best!
Thu 17th Jul '08 7:31PM
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More stats can be found here:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/jul/17/knifecrime.ukcrime2?gusrc=rss&feed=uknews
and here:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/jul/17/knifecrime.ukcrime1?gusrc=rss&feed=uknews
    

Spanners*
Misses his big brother :(
Sun 20th Jul '08 12:55PM
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I actually think the media really exacerbates the problem - by publicising it they don't only make more people fearful and paranoid, they also make it seem like a cooler thing to do in the eyes of lots of troubled kids. It's the ASBO thing all over again - they are still seen as a badge of honour by kids across the country.

What also troubles me is when they have stories about the amount of attacks and crimes that go unpunished - there was a particularly worrying report I heard last year that only one in 7 rapes results in a prosecution. Yes the police need a serious kick to get those stats sorted but reporting them so widely is like announcing to all these thugs that they can do exactly what they want and will probably get away with it.
    

Demian*
Oh Lordy, Plegaleggole
Mon 21st Jul '08 10:14AM
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7th Apr '03


Amanshu was bold enough to comment:

However in this case they're moving against carrying something which definitely is a weapon. Yes this might work against people who are carrying them for a valid reason (a gutting knife for fishing, a diving knife for scuba diving are a couple of examples I can think of) you can equally broaden the definition to an absurd level. "Yes officer, I know it's a six foot broadsword but it's only for ornamentation. I wouldn't plan on using it on anyone..."

...

I'm not saying that the government's solution is the best one (or even a good one) but at least it's something to start the ball rolling. Ultimately attitudes need to be changed so that nobody thinks it is acceptable to take a knife with them, either as a status symbol or some measure of self-defence.




Maybe it's just because I'm now (depressingly) approaching my mid-thirties, but when I grew up every kid had a penknife. Not to attack someone or hurt anyone, but for a dozen other worthwhile reasons.

Getting your first penknife was one of the first rites of passage in a young boys life, and I'd bet any money that anyone who had one could describe their first in great detail (mine was tartan, single bladed with a keyring attachment, and I was so proud to finally be allowed my first penknife that I must have carried it everywhere for years, until it became too rusty to use and my uncle bought me a Victorinox Swiss Army knife for Christmas). It WAS a status symbol, yes, but not a symbol of the violence which it could possibly be used for. I was proud of my knife and showed it off to my friends, and I honestly believe that not once did I or any of my friends even look on them as weapons, merely multifunctional tools with an almost infinite variety of uses. Their 'status symbol' value was given by the fact that one could only be obtained when one was seen as grown-up enough to be trusted not to cut your own fingers off!

I never once considered hurting or attacking anyone with it, and it would be no exaggeration to say that I found literally THOUSANDS of things to use it for. To even start to list them would be absurd, as children can find a thousand uses for a piece of string. For examples (and a damn fine read to boot!), look at the 'Just William' books by Richmal Crompton.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that this legislation will destroy that tradition, and, iconoclast though I am, that's really the only reason I find it disagreeable.

Edit: As a silly aside, I do actually have a letter somewhere explaining that I have permission to buy a five-foot long jewel-encrusted battle-axe and carry it on the bus, as long as I'm only transporting it from the shop to my house on the day of purchase. I was young and thought it would look cool on my wall, but I never actually raised enough spare cash to buy it!
  

Xander
The panda is the evolutionary equivalent of living off benefits.
Mon 3rd Nov '08 4:38PM
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16th Jul '08
Has anyone noticed that since the economy went tits up knife crime has dropped completely out of the media?

At one point everytime someone got stabbed it was on the front page. Just an observation.
 

Spanners*
Misses his big brother :(
Wed 5th Nov '08 7:18AM
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7th Apr '03


Xander was bold enough to comment:
Has anyone noticed that since the economy went tits up knife crime has dropped completely out of the media?

At one point everytime someone got stabbed it was on the front page. Just an observation.


Absolutely right. Media hype completely dictates what most people get excited about. I recon we need another foot and mouth outbreak or bird flu scare to make them forget about economics for a bit and allow the markets to fix themselves.
    

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