Fourth teenager in a month dies from knife wounds

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The Independent Online

Britain's adolescent knife culture claimed its latest victim in the early hours of yesterday morning, when an 18-year-old became the fourth teenager to die on the capital's street this year.

He died in a part of south London not normally associated with gang disputes. East Dulwich is a predominantly middle-class area and yesterday shoppers on the busy high street nearby were shocked that the violence they read about had spilled into their "oasis".

The latest violence underlines the growing threat from knives as new figures obtained by The Independent on Sunday under the Freedom of Information Act show the number of children convicted of carrying bladed weapons has doubled in the past decade, despite repeated government initiatives.

Details of the surge in the use of knives come as the Government prepares to publish a report on street crime by the actress Brooke Kinsella, whose brother Ben was fatally stabbed in 2008. She was asked to review efforts to tackle gun and knife crime last summer.

Her report is expected to call for a further crackdown on weapons – but will also claim that schools should give lessons on the danger of carrying knives.

But Ministry of Justice figures show that 1,359 under-18s were found guilty for possessing "an article with a blade or point" in England and Wales in 2009. In 2000, the number was 697. Those found guilty include 20 children aged 10, 60 aged 11, and 190 12-year-olds.

Experts claimed the increase in convictions represented only the tip of the iceberg. David Wilson, a criminologist, said some youngsters carried knives to demonstrate masculinity, but many more did so "because they were scared".

In Dulwich, however, the debate comes too late for one more teenager.

The trouble is believed to have started at the Dulwich Hamlet Football Club, which hires out its bar on Friday and Saturday nights.

The area is flanked by two large housing estates which nestle among the suburban semi-detached houses and rows of Victorian terraces.