Youths are carrying knives in London because they feel they need to be prepared to defend themselves, a shocking new report shows.
A London Assembly investigation has revealed youth crime is on the rise in the capital, and a dominant driver could be down to young people fearing for their safety.
The Serious Youth Violence document published by the Police and Crime Committee on Wednesday (September 21) also showed:
- Almost a quarter of all victims of serious youth crime in the capital are women
- Half of all reports of youth violence in London involve knives
- Youth crime is not solely a gang issue and gang violence makes up only 5% of all crimes involving young people in 2015-16
The committee wrote: "A dominant driver, particularly of knife crime among young people, appears to be a belief that they need to be prepared to defend themselves.
"This could in part be fuelled by a perception of the number and severity of weapons on the streets...and be a fear fuelled by incidents that occur in their communities."
Chairman of the Police and Crime Committee, Steve O’Connell, said: "We found that fear of violence is fuelling violence, and this is particularly the case with knife crime."
Discussing the labelling of youngsters belonging to "gangs", he added: "The committee found that gangs are involved in only a small amount of serious youth violence and it is, in fact, a far broader issue that affects a much wider section of Londoners.
"Stigmatising young people with the ‘gang member’ label is neither helpful nor accurate."
Communities plea for youth crime to be looked at after teen stabbings
West London is no stranger to knife crime in 2016, after regular reports of teens both being charged with murder or being victims of youth crime.
September saw a 17-year-old convicted of manslaughter for stabbing 17-year-old Usaama Ali in the heart in October 2015.
A tribute to Usaama Ali who was stabbed in Acton
Meanwhile in August a teenage admit to knife attacks during unrest which began as an innocent water fight in Hyde Park .
In Notting Hill on July 3, two teenage boys were charged with the murder of a 17-year-old Folajimi Orebiyi who was stabbed to death in Portobello Road.
These are just some examples of the major crimes the boroughs have seen, and the police have tried to tackle the issue on a wider scale in west London.
May 2016 saw police in Hounslow begin a two week knife amnesty to reassure residents after overall crime rates were reduced in the borough, but knife crimes increased.
Superintendent Mark Payne told getwestlondon at the time that people's concerns sparked a support for stop and searches, which led to one in five arrests during the month.
Reasons for a rise in youth crime apart from fears of knives being carried to defend themselves include the availability of purchasing knives and even sparked by the amount of violence some people may witness in their own homes.However, Commander Duncan Bell from the Metropolitan Police admitted these complex trends will not be spotted for another several years.