Knife crime a bigger threat than terrorism

The murder of Ben Kinsella has thrust knife crime to the top of the agenda.

The irony that the 16 year old had actually written to Gordon Brown about the epidemic of stabbings and other youth crime makes his murder all the more poignant.

Ben leaves behind him a family void that will never be filled and an appeal website

Outside of his family, the murder of 68 year old Bangor guest house owner Billy Spence may not have the same impact but it matches it in callousness.

The Independent on Sunday reveals the full appalling knife crime and other stabbing stats for the UK including NI – 14,000 were taken to hospital last year.

More than 450 young people in Northern Ireland were threatened or hurt with knives in the last five years, according to government figures.

Just over 100 attacks on youths aged under 18 happened in the last year, NI Minister Paul Goggins said.

In 2006/07, 260 people of all ages were victims of knife crime. But that number rose to 423 in the past 12 months.

Knife crime has now overtaken terrorism as the Met police’s current priority

According to a Times report, police mediation techniques, pioneered in Northern Ireland, have been used successfully to reduce gang warfare in Birmingham. Around 1000 offences a year involving knives are committed in NI.

And the penalty for carrying a knife has been doubled ffrom two to four years.

A thoughtful piece by Deborah McAleese in the Belfast Telegraph concludes that doubling sentences isn’t enough….

Labour’s laws on violent crime are described as ” a convoluted mess” by the Policy Exchange think tank whose report “Going Ballstic” out later this week, is being “studied” by No 10.

Slugger will keep you up to speed… We want to know more about those PSNI mediation techniques.

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    “The murder of Ben Kinsella has thrust knife crime to the top of the agenda.” Really? But it’s been a major news and political issue for ages. Or do the black victims not count as much? And “thrust”? FFS.

    I’ll set the timer on the first mention of the McCartney murder and Sinn Fein’s attitude to policing and or justice. Go!

  • Anyone getting into a fight now must be able to finish it.

    On first reading a thousand knife crimes per year in NI isn’t saying much for those police mediation techniques. Why aren’t they employing their techniques used for paramilitaries to stop knife crime here? Or are they? Or is it the so called CRJ that is doing it?

    Medition techniques!!! Gimmie a break. What they haven’t tried is metal detectors in schools and youth and drinking clubs for fear of their human rights being breached. Try stiffer sentences and harsher jail time. Try boot camp.

    Instead of sitting on their arses and talking to these thugs and trying to sort out the rumours they spread.

    What are they talking about anyway? aw go on, giveus your wee knife ye might hurt somebody



    We lost the battle for the streets long ago. I am 6ft and 16 stone but there are parts of Belfast I wouldn’t go near or main roads I wouldn’t walk along after 11.00 o’clock at night. In North Belfast many decent people are living on edge all the time. From the gangs of feral youths roaming the streets then congragating on street corners to wee girls out of their tree on drugs & alcohol to thuggish elements abusing people in parks the scumbags have won. Even in the more affluent parts of the city many are on their guard. ANY noise in the driveway or front garden is treated suspiciously and you keep your wits about you if you go out to lock up at night. Many of these thugs go out armed with Knives/screwdrivers/hammers. My neighbour confronted 2 youths who knocked his wing mirror off. They turned around, went towards him and told him they would stab him. There was NO fear in them. I have been told that some times there can be as little as 3 OR 4 PSNI Landrovers patrolling the whole of North Belfast and call out times for incidents can be up to an hour and a half. Is it any wonder the night rats and criminals have no fear? The NI Housing Executive has panicked about the housing situation in North Belfast and is now building skywards and stacking as many into high rise buildings as possible. Dublin did this in places like Ballymun in the 1960’s and the place turned into a criminal & drug paradise. Exactly the same is happening here. Many high rises, flat complexes and estates are big ghettos stuffed full of the benefit brigade, drug dealers, anti social elements and problem families. This crowd then spills on the streets drinking and annoying the rest of us when the sun comes out and torturing us at night when we are trying to sleep AND hey presto we see an explosion of crime. We are sitting on a drug and criminal timebomb which is staring to smoke already. It will only get worse.

  • Dave

    Back to basics, alas. Introduce a policy of mandatory sentencing of two years for the first offence of carrying a dangerous weapon, backed up by an extensive police stop-and-search campaign, along with a £500 reward for reporting anyone carrying a knife and location that leads to a successful arrest (teenagers will be queuing up for the pocket money), and you’ll soon whack this problem on its head. But first, you have to whack the bleeding heart liberal, loony left, PC-mongers, and the ‘rights’ industry on their collective heads – that dismal, self-serving ilk is responsible for the social engineering that led to this collapse of civil society.


    I agree Dave, I am sick of this “he/she wasn’t hugged enough by his/her mammy” and “that’s why they mugged the pensioner, robbed a chemist, stole a car” standard defence they use and which the courts often fall for. People should be held responsible for their own actions from the age of 10 and treated as a criminal from that age if they behave like one. The problem is that many individuals want the trappings of a good life but aren’t prepared to work for it. When they find that you only get out of life what you put in they can’t hack it and resort to crime, assault, murder. Drugs & alcohol also get blamed for much of this but have they ever heard the word NO. I like a pint, sometimes too often, but I know when to knock it on the head. Every one deserves a second chance but after that there should be very harsh penalties. The recent documentary about prison life in the North was a real eye opener. Pool tables, TV/Radio’s, tuck shops, menus AND prison is meant to be a punishment? Prison life should be exactly that, they should do what the Prison Governor in one of the American states does (recent media story). Make them wear pink prison uniforms, tune their TV to cartoons only and turn the heating up when it’s warm and off when it is freezing. As the governor said “It’s not meant to be an enjoyable experience”. Only when we make prison such an unpleasant experience will something maybe be done. Then there is ALL this money wasted on probation workers, social workers, community organisations etc. It’s all a big con. Put the money into crime fighting and victims groups and sod the perpetrators. Let them reap what they sow for themselves. There are too many ‘community workers’ and ‘social organisations’ making a good living out of it. It’s ALL crap as the thugs are still wrecking the streets, assaulting innocent citizens and torturing good decent business people. There are some things I agree with the Chinese government on and their TOTAL zero tolerance on crime is one.

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    This is very poignant, and all the more so that the recent murdered victims in the photo’s are looking backing at us. Society should be ashamed.

    It is senseless that people are murdered for whatever inane cause. The innocent murdered victims of the NI troubles are part of this photo album too. It is ever so sad and it is ever so unforgiveable!

    The blame is with ourselves and the societies we create!

  • HeadTheBall

    Genuine, if naive, question from someone who has not lived in NI for 40+ years. Where are the paramilitaries in all this? Are they not committed to defending their own neighbourhoods? The Mafia would not tolerate this shite in Palermo.


    I recently read some info on the Chinese judicial system and it really opens your eyes. When punishments are handed down they are usually carried out the same day and there is NO appeal system. When the death penalty is decided the guilty are just taken out from the court and shot once in the back of the head within minutes of the judgement. Then the family of the accused are charged for the price of the bullet. Now I don’t advocate this for the North but we need to PUNISH the criminal element VERY HARSHLY. They NEED to know that prison is an unpleasant experience. I would ban ALL forms of entertainment that make the experience easier. TV/RADIO/COMPUTERS/PENS/PAPER/PHOTOGRAPHS/DECORATIONS etc should be banned. Criminals should receive the bare minimum dietary and calorie needs and any luxuries like sugar/chocolate/sweets etc should be denied. They should be forced to do menial tasks and work that recompenses the victims and remission should be done away with. These criminals should also be denied ANY state benefits or assistance for housing. So what if they have to live on the streets, they are criminals and should be treated as such. They HAVE to know that they will pay for their crimes.

  • aquifer

    In a crowded planet the politics of the future is about behaviour.

    Around here we have spawned a paternalist industry of mercy givers, rewarding excuses and yarns with expanded opportunities to abuse the rest of us.

    Youth justice is a confusing and long drawn out mess, so that young people get no clear message about acceptable behaviour.

    Much of the damage is done before the age of four, to children born to parents without the resources to care enough.

    These trends have to be reversed, so who will do it?

    Step forward the Tories.

    Nobody else wanted the job.

  • Comrade Stalin

    aquifier, some people would say the Tories are partially responsible for creating this mess. The primacy of the individual and the infamous misquoted “there is no such thing as society” has led us to this. Take what you can, and to hell with everyone else.

    I think we need to look at other places and countries, and try to understand what we’re doing wrong. Are there spides in France and Germany ? I never saw any.

    I read somewhere recently that the prison population has in fact increased significantly under Labour. I am not completely convinced there is evidence that “more bars, more walls, more guards” will yield results.

  • POL

    Dont you just miss the punishment beatings or knee cappings! However these punishments went on for a very long time with no real visible results, although it did tend to give a sense of justice to the victim.In the end a knee capping in the hoodlum community was viewed as a badge of honour.
    Love to know if the crucifixion in Seymour hill had a positive result in reducing car crime in that area, and if so maybe the loyalists could francise it out to the wider community.

  • T Ruth

    It is possible for a teacher ,for example, to enforce a rule of silence. Asking people to be quiet is a different matter. Zero tolerance for knife or dangerous weapon crime should be applied rigourously with police given search and arrest powers.. Then-On the spot conviction and immediate incarceration-two years first offence-ten years second offence-no remission, but leave to appeal without bail.. Two year sentence served in Spartan conditions.
    Lets win this one battle and the scene is set to win others.The cost of applying the Law should be estimated and a charge levied against offenders who pay out of earnings or sale of effects.
    Hard working students have to pay back for years so why not thugs and those who threaten the stabilty of society by carrying offensive weapons.
    The war against crime can be won if there is determination to win.

  • Woodkerne

    In this part of the world (Rep of Twinbrook) violence and petty/serious crime is the reality. Not unlike a violent and over dramatic soap opera… the most sinister thing about this is it is reality. Luckily the violence does not often come looking you purposefuly if you keep your head down and get on with life etc.

    The urban underclass here is self sustaining (DLA plc)and can often manifest itself in antisocial behaviour by the “hooding” element notable for their admiration of anarchy. There are so many issues that need to be addressed in order to sort out the scourge of this culture complicated as it is by generational issues,educational developement and the ghetto culture/mentality.

    The IRA are almost irrelevent, they are too busy now conentrating on their retirement plans/dividends and seldom rear their heads (besides some of their younger members are ‘reeducated’street hoods themselves). The cops try sometimes but their efforts are usualy punative, late and little. Occasionaly they have a campeign to target a specific niche or clique of the Hood culture but the laws an ass and often politicaly self serving, bearing little impact on reality.

    A lot of the youth element who make up the hordes of tracksuite clones usualy grow up and get a handle on life a few don’t and crime becomes their habitual practice. It is this hardcore element who cause a disproportunate ammount of dammage to the common weal, they can be beaten within an inch of their life, be shot in the extremities repeatedly, imprisoned and ostracised but they are beyond caring. I have often seen habitual crims displaying their red badges of courage like trophies and heard their refrain of “what r dey gunna do kill me!”. Attitudes like this defy all reasoning. CRJ can be effective with the younger element and mediation can work, ghettos are parochial and peer pressure and opinion counts.

    I see no remedy for this issue, but I do believe that the responsibility ultimatly rests with parenting, whether it be that the parents don’t care or that the young hood is mollycuddled (“my wee boy wasn’t a joyrider/thief/there” etc). Maybe targeting parents with penalties while while implementing statutary interventions at a very young age. Also compensation and monetary claims should be withheld or the person recieving the reward of such should be assessed as to whether they are fit to spend large sums responsibly.

    By the way all liberal democracies have their fair share of low class societal issues- I got stroked by some chavy gutter runners in France while trying to buy a score of gringo once…dirty, greasy algerian bastards!

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    Hooray for the Algerians. They know a twat when they see one.

  • woodkerne

    Go fuck yourself billiejoe

  • aquifer

    Comrade “some people would say the Tories are partially responsible for creating this mess”

    Me included, but that will not stop people voting for them.

    The Tories engineered a recession that destroyed UK manufacturing and with it the prospects of a productive and respected adulthood for many young males. And the Unions did not recognise Unions of the unemployed, so Unions withered with the recession. Their only crime was selfishness. Oh, and stupidity.

    We need a justice system where people are deterred, not interned. More fixed penalties for small offences before we get big offences. More street powers for the police. More respect for victims than offenders.

    Former offenders need occasional reminders of how awful prison was. A short visit could do, because, quite simply, like the rest of us, they forget.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Woodkern, that was a good post until you started with the Combat 18 stuff at the end.

    aquifier, Blair has so utterly trashed the Labour Party and what it stood for that I couldn’t blame people in their desperation for voting Conservative. Personally I could never do so, but I can’t say I am dreading the idea of them getting into power. How could they be any worse ?

    Thatcher put the knife into UK manufacturing, but let’s be honest, it was buggered long before that. The unions became fat and lazy, and incapable of leading and modernising their workforce. UK manufacturing produced crap goods; nobody would voluntarily buy them so the government had to rely on protectionism and state intervention to keep them afloat.

    Thatcher’s shock tactics were vengeful and wicked, and she set out to hurt people. And yes, there were many cases of businesses and industries that could have been viable with some constructive support. But in many cases she just pulled the plug on the life support machine.

    Look at our very own H&W;shipyard for Pete’s sake. Have you ever talked to anyone who worked there ? You basically turned up and did whatever you fancied. No wonder the place collapsed into nothing.