Police are giving domestic violence victims blunt knives to replace current ones in their kitchens in an attempt to reduce stabbings in the home.
Nottinghamshire Police are piloting the scheme where around 100 “no point” knives will be handed to people who have either been attacked or threatened with a knife.
Superintendent Matt McFarlane, who is overseeing the scheme, said: “We do see a fair amount of knife-related incidents in domestic abuse, not just on the streets.
“This is a measure we need to take. We want to reduce that risk. It is a trial. We have about 100 of them – and we have so far given out about 50. The knife is blunt at the end – but still functions as a knife – so you can’t stab someone.
“People will stay in a relationship after some serious episodes of domestic abuse. They may stay together for children, get back together, or might get back together when they are out of prison.”
The new knife crime strategy manager for Nottinghamshire Police said the “no point” knives would generally be handed out in a situation “where a knife had been used or the victim had been threatened on a previous occasion”.
They were bought by the police force to use in “appropriate high-risk domestic situations”. People would have to agree to having their sharp knives replaced because it is not compulsory.
Domestic violence knife crime constitutes more than 17 per cent of incidents reported to Nottinghamshire Police. In 2018-19, out of 900 reports of knife crime 159 were related to domestic violence.
Charlotte Kneer, chief executive of Reigate and Banstead Women’s Aid refuge in Surrey, fiercely criticised the scheme and argued it was the “wrong approach” for police to take towards domestic violence.
She said: “It brings up trauma for me. Once my ex grabbed a knife out of the kitchen drawer and attempted to stab me and another time he grabbed a knife out of a kitchen drawer and tried to make me stab him. I see the intent of what they are trying to achieve but it is not solving any problems.
“If the people who are being given blunt knives are identified as being at risk of serious harm, then that is what the police and other agencies should be acting on, rather than just putting a blunt knife in their drawer. It seems like a strange – although well-intentioned – approach and I do not support it. It does not go anywhere near far enough.
“If a victim is seriously harmed or murdered with another instrument after you give them a blunt knife then the police will have serious questions to answer given they had identified the victim as being at risk. If someone is grabbing knives out of kitchen drawers then they are a homicide threat. If there is not a knife handy in the drawer, they will do something else. They could grab a rolling pin.”
The domestic abuse survivor, whose violent partner was jailed for seven years in 2011, argued abusive partners are generally in total control and said the scheme reinforced the widely held “vision of domestic abuse as a crime of passion”.
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