Monday 7 July 2008

Knife Crime

This post will probably make me unpopular with the public and the Police equally, but knife crime is in the news so much at the moment it seems daft to leave it alone.

There has recently been a 75 strong anti-knife crime unit set up by the Met to help out, and good luck to them. I do have to wonder where the seventy five officers came from though, and whether another desperately short team is now even more desperate.

On our response teams, we can also prevent knife crime. Until our numbers were so sorely depleted, we used to put out Q-cars, a plainclothes unmarked car, every night duty and some day shifts. I haven't seen one put out by our team in months.
CID and the Robbery Squad also used to go out hunting, but their hours and staff have been reduced to the point where CID especially are struggling to keep up with their workload that is already on their plate when they come in. Sometimes our night duty CID cover is one lone officer, and I don't expect him to start scouring the street for knife carrying feral gangs alone.

We struggle on our response team to put out the numbers and get to the calls, as I have talked about recently. This means that proactive patrolling, although the most enjoyable part of policing, is rarely if ever done.

But we know where the knives are. Any street copper who has worked years in the same area knows where the gangs hang out, where the knives are carried, and who regularly carries them.

Although this is unfashionable, some officers are scared. Not all of us, all the time - but scared we sometimes are.
When we approach these groups, there can be more of them in one place than every single officer in the division. And some, if not most of those officers will of course be dealing with other things. So we know that if it comes down to a real violent situation, in the short term we will lose.
We still approach them, and still get assaulted of course, but it does put you in a thoughtful mind sometimes. Sometimes the control room will not even let you approach groups if you put up you're going to go after them.
We're scared of complaints - we're told we're harassing people. This we are, but that is because, as I said, we know where these knives are - but turn up in a marked Police vehicle with officers in uniform, and most people will have plenty of time to ditch or hide their weapons before our approach.
Often we use stop search as a deterrent, as a nuisance rather than a finding exercise.

When we get lucky, and get someone who is armed and arrest them, we hit the next problem. There will be no handover team if it is weekend, evening, or night (and the handover teams are so busy that often they can't take the jobs on during the day).
So that is probably you and another officer off the road for the rest of the shift. Plus any further enquiries you many need to make before the court case. I am assuming they are charged.

This means that whilst you are sat inside dealing with your body, you cannot deal with the constant, frantic calls that are being put out. Knife fights, serious assaults, domestics, serious car accidents, pub fights, sudden deaths... all are coming out over the radio and you can not assist with any of them.
Neither can your colleagues. They are either tucked up with arrests of their own, or already at or on the way to calls. There are ALWAYs calls outstanding, some hours old.

Don't misunderstand me - my colleagues and I want to arrest people carrying weapons. We want to drag self created arrests in, and do more than just respond to calls. But we don't have the time and resources, and until a more efficient way of dealing with arrests is put into place, this is not going to change.

Like most Police bloggers, I don't think we need more police officers per se. What we need is those officers out on the streets, providing a visible presence, and getting in the way of the persistant criminals. And we need to be helped to do our jobs, rather than constantly hindered in the execution of our duty.

If that happens, then simple - knife crime, and many other types of crime, will fall.

EDIT - the link to the news story where the photo above came from is here. It is a scary set of photos, showing incredibly brave, unarmed officers dealing with an armed, angry, dangerous individual with mental health problems.


Anonymous said...

Fear isn't a bad thing, it's actually very healthy provided you don't let it control your actions.

Good post, good sentiments, however we both know it's never going to happen (more officers and a largely proactive policing remit).

Area Trace No Search said...

tbs - true as always, another spot on comment from you.

When you going to start a blog so I can comment on yours?

Metcountymounty said...

excellent post area, as you said we don't need more Police, we have more than enough, we just ned the ones we have got to be doing proper Policing. I have no doubt that if everyone in an office or a non-squad put a uniform on and went out for a month then crime would seem to go through the roof initially as more reports and arrests are made but after a few weeks the shite would move elsewhere, if you hammer a place long enough and hard enough people get the message. Until the SMT see it as a success then pull the budget and within a short while things return to normal.

Anonymous said...

Personally i'd LIKE to see more police on the streets. Whether you agree or not I think a healthy police presence, the old community bobby etc is the way forward. Less red tape and bureaucracy and more stop and search powers. I am a regular Joe Bloggs citizen and I want to be able to see police walking about and preventing crime.

Metcountymounty said...

anon 1637, we don't need more stop and search powers, the ones we have are perfectly adequate. What will help is getting rid of the 5 minute per stop form for each one and having sufficient boots on the ground to actually dominate an area for the long term instead of drive-by policing (in both the literal and metaphorical sense) and short term ops, projects or amnesties.

Anonymous said...

After 18 years of reactive policing, admittedly the last 3 in traffic, I couldn't agree more. Get bobbies out of 9 to 5 offices and "on the street". There's plenty of us, we just need to be better utilised. Top whack PC's are reviewing CCTV, pub licensing officers, schools liaison, the list goes on. The policing world has gone mad. Ah well off to do nights. Take care all, whatever you do for a job.

Dedicated_Dad said...

Please know that I mean no disrespect, and what I say is more a warning to my peers than a mockery of you and yours.

That said, it pains this Yank to see what once-Great Britain has become.

What happens when you finally manage to stamp out all the knives (if such were even possible)? Then you will need "club-crime units" and, later "rock-crime units."

Once you've succeeded in ridding the Islands of all their rocks, you'll need "fist crime units" and "boot crime units."

Yobs are going to kill one another. Occasionally they're going to kill one of us. Not much to be done about it, really... at least nothing that is likely to happen.

Many of us over here have watched, carefully, since your citizens gave up their ability to defend themselves. Personally, I cried for your loss and have done so since - I can guarantee you that "Cousin Jonathan" would be no more likely to line up to hand in his G*d-given birthright today than he was 232 years ago.

Which is exactly why our Supreme Court decided the Heller case the way they did. They'd have LIKED to go the other way, and law be damned, but expected a mass revolt if they did so they came down with a narrow 5-4 ruling, leaving it for a later Court to overturn after another generation of softening-up.

Knives don't kill people, people kill people. Young, healthy, strong people with knives kill others -- most weaker than themselves -- with or without them.

There's one tool on the planet that will allow this crippled old man to defend himself against a young, healthy man with a knife, and they'll take it from me when they pry it from my cold, dead hands.

There's a reason why our violent crime rates are lower than yours -- some of the sheep in our herd have teeth, and the wolves cannot know which they are. This makes the smart ones think twice, and some of them choose less dangerous ways of making a living.

With guns, and now knives removed from the arsenal, a young wolf can be sure that old man or woman is a defenseless target. Who can blame them for doing what predators do?

When I was a child, not very long ago, Bobbies carried sticks and whistles. Now they wear bullet-resistant vests and carry MP5 submachine-guns while everyone's up in arms about knives the way they once were about guns.

Looks like that ban worked out quite well, Hmmmmm??

When the first hairless ape realized a closed fist caused more damage than an open hand, the next one picked up a rock to equalize things. This worked until the next one found a big stick, then a sharp one and so on. It's how we are.

G*d made men, Sam Colt made them equal.


Anonymous said...

I agree, if you could be allowed to do the policing the public want (visible, constructive, successful) then things would start getting back to how we need them to be.

Anonymous said...


Where did you get this phot from as it looks like Sussex Police?



Area Trace No Search said...

Sus Pol - the story is here:

It's a scary set of photos, not least because it shows the futility of trying to deal with an armed individual with just a stick and a can of deodorant to hand.

Dedicated Dad, I do love that Sam Colt quote...

Anonymous said...

What is that about ^^^^^^??

Area Trace No Search (lol) - thanks for the intel. I thought I recognised the officer and the ppv they were wearing.

Good story, cheers.

Keep safe on the streets of fear:)


Anonymous said...

The 75 are TSG..not the same 75 all the time...some on borough reserve..some on -5. A pot of £2million apparently..smoke&mirrors

Anonymous said...

It's OK! Grazia magazine is all over it with their Lives Not Knives campaign. Panic over.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like that thorough kicking you got and wrote about recently also kicked the courage right out of you.

Do the honest thing and quit.

Anonymous said...

MCM @ 13:53 - you do seem to have a rather simplistic view on things.

Malthebof said...

What continues to puzzle me is that, Joe Public wants Police on the street, police bloggers want the bobbies on the street, yet Chief Constable always say that this is not possible. Locally elected Chief Constables would concentrate their minds on what the public wants

Anonymous said...

UNARMED?? It looks like they had batons. If a policeman finds a baton on me it is an "offensive weapon" and I will be charged.
I would fancy my chances three people with batons against one nutter with a steak knife. Save the epithet brave for a more appropriate occasion,please. Police do commit many acts of unsung heroism but this does not look like one of them!

Anonymous said...

Yobs are going toCheap D3 Gold get rid of one another. From time to time they will destroy one among people. Little for being done about it, definitely... at the very least nothing that Cheap GW2 Goldmay be prone to occur.

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