Rise of knife crime ‘a cancer on the United Kingdom society’

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Yet another mass shooting takes place in the United States and people in Britain shake their heads and mutter about “those Americans and their guns”.

Official statistics show that about 100 Americans are killed by firearms every day. In Britain, with firmly enforced gun laws, there are about 35 gun deaths per year.

But we should not be complacent, because the UK has its own killer weapon, the knife, or the “bladed article” in legalese, which is taking ever more lives, especially among young people.

The headlines say it all: ‘Boy, 16, charged in Hexham murder of teenage girl’; ‘Leeds man, 18, seriously injured in city centre stabbing’; ‘Motel murder charge after Leicester city stabbing’; ‘Knife thug stabbed mum through the door’.

In the last-mentioned case, Tom Allen kicked a hole in a door then reached through and stabbed his partner to death. Jailing him for at least 27 years, the judge described knife crime as “cancer on society”.

Territory and girls 

That would include high society, too. While many stabbings involve alcohol, teenagers in gangs and arguments about territory and girls, one recent confrontation took place in London’s famously posh store, Harrods. A man of 29 was rushed to hospital with knife wounds, apparently after a row over a watch in the super-rich Louis Vuitton section.

Britain is policed by independent forces and most have declared war on violent crime in their areas. The West Yorkshire force announced last week that it has made more than 8,000 arrests and confiscated more than 1,600 bladed weapons, including knives and machetes, since launching a crackdown, Operation Jemlock, in 2019.

Jemlock involves officers patrolling high-priority areas to provide a highly visible presence and enforce the law when required.

Chief Inspector James Kitchen said, “Jemlock was created to reduce violent crime and data tell us that crime in areas selected for Jemlock patrols reduces by 11 per cent, that is hundreds of fewer victims each year.”

* * *

The body of a mentally ill woman, Laura Winham, was discovered in a “mummified, almost skeletal” state, according to her family, who say she had been dead for three years.

Ms Winham, 38, lived alone in Woking, Surrey. Relatives said she had become estranged from the family because she suffered from schizophrenia and believed they were her enemies.

A brother found her body in May 2021. She is thought to have died in November 2017. One of the last entries on her calendar read, “I need help.”

Her sister Nicky said the social services had failed to follow up Laura’s needs despite warning signs about her deteriorating health.

“Everyone seems to have turned a blind eye,” she said. “She was abandoned and left to die.”

Investigations are taking place for an inquest into the circumstances of her death.

* * * Teddy, aged four, has become the UK’s youngest member of Mensa, the society for people with sky-high IQs.

Teddy can count to 100 in six languages, including Mandarin. 

His mother, Beth, from Portishead in Somerset, told the BBC that Teddy taught himself to read at the age of two during the pandemic lockdown. He did so by watching educational programmes on television.

Clearly, this little fellow can look to a brilliant future, but Mensa consultant Lyn Kendal warns that there can also be family problems.

She runs a support group for parents of gifted children and says, “Being a parent of a Mensa child is demanding, exhausting and frustrating. It nearly ruins some marriages.”

* * *

Footballer Joelinton, who plays for Newcastle United, was stopped in his car by police early one recent morning and given a breath test.

This showed he had 43 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milligrams of breath when the legal limit is 35 milligrams. Consequently, he was charged with drunk driving.

Calculating a fine, the judge noted that Joelinton earned £43,000 per week. He fined him £29,000 and banned him from driving for a year.

That sort of fine is vastly more than would normally be imposed for such a transgression, but Joelinton’s wealth is much more than that of the average offender.

The question: Is it right that the penalty for breaking the law is determined not by the seriousness of the offence but by the size of the offender’s wallet?

* * *

On his first day in a new job, an employee was asked his name.

“Simon,” he said, which did not please the boss. “I don’t know what namby-pamby company you worked for before, but there are no first names here. What’s your surname?”

Said the employee: “Darling, my name is Simon Darling.”

“Right, Simon,” said the boss, “you’re very welcome…”

* * *

Observations for 2023:

Does anyone else have a plastic bag stuffed full of plastic bags, or is it just me?

I hate it when I have a computer problem and my tech support guy is asleep. He’s five and it’s past his bedtime.

Tip for a successful marriage: Don’t ask your wife when dinner will be ready while she’s mowing the lawn.