By Cian Molloy - 02 April, 2019
Church leaders in the UK are supporting a rally against the scourge of knife crime.
The Standing Together rally takes place in London’s Trafalgar Square next Saturday and is aimed at stemming the growing tide of death and serious injury caused by knives.
Not only are knives used increasingly in violent robberies and deliberate assaults, but increasingly young people are carrying knives to protect themselves against intimidation, with the result that confrontations are more likely to escalate into wounding incidents.
British police have seen the number of recorded knife crime offences increase by more than 66 per cent in the 4 years between 2014 and 2018. Of the 44 Police Forces in the UK, 42 have seen knife crime increase since 2012. The number of people murdered in England and Wales as a result of knife crime has doubled from less than 140 to more than 280 in 2017.
The issue of knife crime is regularly discussed at meetings with priests in the Westminster Diocese, says Cardinal Archbishop Vin Nichols, who will be attending the ecumenical rally. He is particularly alarmed that the Home Office reports that in 2018 there was a 19 per cent increase in violent crime in comparison with the previous year.
“On Saturday, we will be speaking up for young people today, for their generosity and sense of justice,” said Cardinal Nichols. “We will be speaking out against knife crime. We will be lamenting with all who have lost loved ones or suffering injuries on our streets at this time.”
The rally’s organisers are calling on English and Welsh Catholics in parishes, communities and schools to take part in this cooperative effort. They say: “It is imperative for all to stand together with other Christians to speak against youth violence, support victims and help to find solutions to rebuild trust on our streets, in our parks, neighbourhoods and communities across the country.”
Ireland is not immune to the scourge of knife crime. Garda seizures of knives following stop-and-search exercises have increased by 66 per cent since 2016 and Ireland has one of the highest per capita knife crime rates in Europe. Limerick was in the past afflicted with the nickname ‘stab-city’, but knife related crime is reported more frequently in Dublin and Cork.