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Knife crime strategy may fail

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Plans to tackle knife crime could struggle as it is 'impossible to establish an upward or downward trend' in incidents, experts have claimed.

According to criminologists at King's College, London, efforts to combat the problem will fail without a "coherent evidence-based strategy".

At least 20 young people have died as a result of stabbings in 2007, with the death of 16-year-old David Nowak in the early hours of Sunday morning the most recent incident.

But according to the report by the Centre for Crime & Justice Studies (CCJS) at King's, a lack of sufficient evidence on the "extent, nature, motivation, frequency and possible growth of knife carrying" made it an extremely difficult area to tackle.

The CCJS report shows that children who have been a victim of crime are more likely to carry a knife, while those living in poverty, especially those in ethnic minorities, are more likely to be a victim of knife crime.

But according to the CCJS, current government policy is undermined by "a lack of good quality of data on incidents and trends, which contributes to a lack of clear thinking about what might be truly effective".

A Home Office spokesperson said the department remained "fully committed to tackling the problem of gang-related violence and knife crime through responsive policing, tough powers and prevention projects offering young people alternatives to gang life".

"We recently made it an offence to use someone to mind a weapon and provided new powers to enhance safety in schools," the spokesperson continued.

"In the new year we will publish a youth crime action plan which will focus on tackling victimisation and the overlap between young people offending and being victims of crime as well as prevention and reducing reoffending."

But Roger Grimshaw, research director at the CCJS, said: "Because knives are a part of everyone's lifestyle, their role in offending tells us something about the tensions and fears in society.

"The available evidence about knife use in offending shows it to be a stubborn problem that requires more attention to the causes of conflict, instead of frantic law-making."

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