Knife crime: the breakthrough

288,000 people stopped and searched in London in past year; More than 10,000 arrests at a rate of one every 51 minutes; 5,400 knives seized, 30 per cent fall in serious stabbing injuries

The Metropolitan Police's campaign to tackle knife crime among youths delivered signs of success yesterday as the force announced that stabbings, murders and other knife-related crime have fallen in the year since Operation Blunt 2 begun.

The figures show that, since the operation started in May 2008, the number of youths suffering serious stabbing injuries in London has fallen by 30 per cent, from 221 to 155, while overall knife crime, which includes any offence where a blade has been used, has fallen by 11.5 per cent – from 13,874 incidents to 12,279. Youth victims of violence have also fallen by 9.8 per cent. And, while knife-related youth murders stood at 14 this time last year, eight people under the age of 19 have been killed with a knife so far this year.

Operation Blunt 2 begun last year after the number of young people being murdered in the capital increased, with the favoured weapon being a knife. The operation widened the already operational Blunt and involved the use of random stop and search tactics and knife arches at Tube and train stations.

In the 12 months, police have stopped and searched 287,898 people in the capital, leading to 10,266 arrests – one every 51 minutes. A total of 5,480 knives were seized and 90 per cent of those caught in possession of a knife are being charged. But knives are now only found in 1 per cent of cases as opposed to 3 per cent last year. Officers accept this could be because their tactics have forced people to stop carrying knives, or because carriers are simply becoming better at avoiding detection.

The figures were released by Scotland Yard yesterday alongside a selection of the weapons that have been recovered. They included a knife disguised as a cigarette lighter, a 28cm machete and a hatchet.

Acting Deputy Commissioner Tim Godwin said that the use of stop and search tactics in non-terrorism operations had increased by 40 per cent and admitted that it can be contentious. "If you are being stopped 10 times or five times you are going to get fed up," he said.

"Every now and again the community will challenge us and that is where we have to be able to argue the reasons for doing it and generally we get support. We have maintained community support in a very sensitive area. It is not about harassing young people. It is about making a hostile environment for people carrying knives and getting weapons off the street.

"The trend in violence is downward, the trend in homicide is downward. Generally the trend is downward, but there is a lot more to do. There is still too much violence, still far too many kids carrying weapons, still far too many kids getting involved in what they would call a gang. This is not job done, it's job ongoing and we've got to maintain our focus."

Commander Mark Simmons, who leads Blunt 2, also revealed that the focus of the operation has allowed police to build intelligence on knife crime in a way that has not been done before. He said that the force has established that the busiest period of time for youth crime involving knives, such as robbery or assault, is not, as it is often believed, late at night, but in the three hours following the end of the school day.

He added: "We have got much sharper in the last year in terms of monitoring intelligence. For example, if a fight happens in a school playground, we can now work out which estate violence is likely to flare on that night and send officers there."

But, while it appears as though the operation is working, some experts have suggested that the figures were decreasing anyway, and it is too early to tell whether the latest falls are as a result of the police efforts. And they point out that, while police statistics show that knife crime is falling, not every stabbing is reported.

Roger Grimshaw, of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, said: "I have seen figures from the Metropolitan Police, showing that knife-related crime has, overall, been falling in London year on year since 2004. So this year on year decrease is not unexpected and may have happened with or without Blunt 2. I think it is too early to say whether the operation has been a success."

Camila Batmanghelidjh, founder of the youth charity Kids Company, added: "I am not saying these figures are not to be believed, but I would not consider them an absolute presentation of the whole picture. I know from working at street level that a vast number of stabbings never get reported to the police. The real figures rest in hospital accident and emergency figures.

"But, considering the intensity of stop and search and random knife arches, it shows that if you put the work in you can bring your figures down. I do think that stop and search and knife arches do make young people think twice about carrying a knife. If the police consider it progress then that is good enough for me. Any progress is good."

Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
News
news
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Antoine Griezmann has started two of France’s four games so far
sport
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary