Just another British bank holiday: police log more than 50 crimes involving knives

A man in his twenties has become the second person to be stabbed to death during the bank holiday weekend, provoking fears that knife crimes are running out of control.

The growing scourge of knife crime is further illustrated by a snap survey of British police forces which found there were at least 50 further stabbing incidents during the past three days.

And a separate study at a London hospital suggested only about half of stabbings were reported, giving further credence to the belief that only a small number of knife crimes are officially recorded. Pressure is growing on the Home Office to introduce new laws to combat knife crime, including calls by Sir Ian Blair, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, for mandatory prison sentences for offences involving bladed weapons.

In the latest killing, the victim, who has yet to be named, was stabbed to death during an altercation at about 3.45am yesterday in the Hockley area of Birmingham. A murder inquiry has been launched. Police say there was no clear motive for the stabbing.

The killing follows the fatal stabbing of Thomas Grant, 19, from Churchdown, Gloucestershire, who was attacked on his way home from St Andrews University in Fife on Saturday. A 21-year-old man has been charged with his murder.

Concerns about teenagers carrying knives were highlighted by the murder of 15-year-old Kiyan Prince, who was knifed to death outside the gates of his north London school 11 days ago. And last Friday a second school pupil, named locally as Mohammed Ahmed Hussain, 16, was stabbed outside Heartlands High School in Nechells, Birmingham. He is still in hospital recovering from surgery.

The Government is running a national knives amnesty in an attempt to reduce the huge number of bladed weapons being carried in public. A survey in 2004 estimated that up to 60,000 children aged 11 to 16 carry knives. Knives are used in 6 per cent of all violent crime, according to the British Crime Survey, and crime involving bladed weapons rose by 3.5 per cent last year.

Inquiries by The Independent found police had recorded at least 51 knife attacks and seven gun incidents among the 52 police forces in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland during the bank holiday weekend. West Yorkshire Police had been made aware of 20 knife incidents, and Cumbria Police knew of 19.

In London, a 32-year-old man was stabbed at midnight on Sunday after he asked a gang of youths to stop smoking on a bus.

Many of the forces contacted, however, said that while they had details of "serious" incidents, their records did not show at this stage whether a gun or knife has been used.

Almost half of forces - mainly in rural areas - could say that there were no recorded gun or knife incidents during the weekend.

Commenting on the number of knife crimes recorded by the police, Lynn Costello, co-founder of Mothers Against Murder and Aggression, said: "These figures are just the tip of the iceberg, they are just the serious, reported crimes that have occurred over the bank holiday.

"We have to do something about this terrifying trend. We need to be arresting people for carrying weapons and giving them tougher sentences. Our children are attacking our children daily. And people will think twice before helping other people, as it can result in injury."

A leading criminologist confirmed that the police were only recording a small percentage of the total number of stabbings and incidents in which young male teenagers threaten other boys with knives. Roger Matthews, professor of criminology at London South Bank University, said a study he had carried out last year at a London accident and emergency hospital department found evidence to suggest that only half of stabbings were officially recorded.

He said: "Many of the people injured wanted to be patched up on the street - they didn't want to go to hospital and give their names and addresses."

He added: "The research on violent crime, such as stabbings, is pretty thin, but all the evidence suggests that many, many offences go unrecorded. People always think about how lethal guns are, but many do not work - whereas almost every knife can kill."

A weekend of violence across the country

GLASGOW

* A 17-year-old was stabbed early on Sunday as he got out of a taxi. He is in a serious condition in hospital.

* A man, 20, was shot and seriously wounded late on Sunday.

* A man, 34, is seriously ill in hospital after he was shot by police on Saturday after police were called to an armed robbery.

EDINBURGH

* Police were hunting two men after a man was stabbed on Saturday.

CUMBRIA

* Nineteen incidents include the death on Saturday of Thomas Grant, from a single stab wound to the heart while travelling on a train.

* A man aged 30 was arrested after "swaggering" around on Friday waving a replica handgun.

WEST YORKSHIRE

* At least 20 incidents involving knives over the weekend.

BIRMINGHAM

* A 14-year-old boy was stabbed outside school on Friday. Three youths have been arrested.

* A man was stabbed to death early yesterday in the Hockley area.

NORWICH, NORFOLK

* A boy aged nine and his eight-year-old sister were robbed at knifepoint on Saturday lunchtime while shopping.

LOWESTOFT, SUFFOLK

* A domestic-related stabbing was reported yesterday morning and a woman aged 45 detained. Her husband was in hospital.

KILBURN, LONDON

* A man aged 32 was stabbed early on Sunday after he asked youths to stop smoking on a bus.

PURFLEET, ESSEX

* A woman aged 26 was in a "very serious condition" in hospital after a stabbing outside a pub following a large fight early on Sunday.

BALLYCASTLE, CO ANTRIM

* A man was stabbed on Friday when he came to the aid of a woman threatened with a knife in a park. A suspect has been charged.

CATFORD, LONDON

* In a shooting outside a nightclub early on Friday, five people, including two women, were injured. Three men arrested.

CARDIFF, SOUTH WALES

* After a shooting early on Sunday at a nightclub, a man aged 18 was in hospital in a stable condition, and an 18-year-old was arrested.

NOTTINGHAM

* Two men were detained in hospital on Saturday morning with serious stab wounds after arriving at a casualty department in a car. The men, aged 26 and 35, had both suffered stomach wounds.

* A man aged 26 was in critical condition in hospital after an unprovoked attack early on Sunday.

BRIDGNORTH, SHROPSHIRE

* A man aged 18 was repeatedly stabbed at a hotel early on Sunday. A man was arrested but bailed pending inquiries.

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