Children are carrying knives for “some kind of kudos”, the country’s top police officer has said.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick was speaking after meeting a community in London where she was told youngsters as young as six have been seen armed with the weapons.
She said they “feel naked” without them, while some are too scared to cross the capital’s roads unarmed.
Her comments come after getwestlondon reported 11-year-olds were caught carrying knives in schools this month.
Ms Dick vowed to get to the root of knife crime as she visited a youth centre in Putney and met the family of a 20-year-old trainee electrician stabbed to death in Tooting last year.
The commissioner promised more officers in schools and others in every ward to help build relationships with young people.
She was told community groups are “screaming out” for a relationship with police, but the force is “not following up”.
The capital has seen a wave of knife attacks in recent weeks, with more than a dozen people killed or seriously injured.
Scotland Yard launched the latest phase of Operation Sceptre earlier this month, cracking down on knife crime.
During her meeting, Ms Dick was told children as young as six have been seen carrying knives in the area.
Speaking to the Press Association after the meeting, she felt this was “pretty horrifying”.
She said: “It’s outrageous to hear a six-year-old is carrying a knife, for whatever reason.
“That’s something a police officer by themselves or even a police force isn’t going to be able to have very much impact on. The question there is what are the parents doing? What are the school doing?”
Ms Dick said youngsters often carry knives for “some kind of respect, some kind of kudos”, but added: “I do accept there are places where some of our young people are scared and they feel it makes sense to carry a knife.
“I can say as long as I live that it does not make them safer. They may not hear that message from me... we need to get people in communities, we need to get people in schools, we need to get parents understanding and helping young people to understand... it will end in tragedy, probably, for them.”
Outlining her plans for early intervention to tackle the epidemic, Ms Dick said: “I want to shift us further into prevention. I want all of us to be working on stopping this before it happens. London knife crime: Police make 400 arrests after spate of stabbings
“Community groups will be an incredibly important part of that. We need to play our part, but it is only a part.”
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