Knife crime rates in Westminster nearing all-time high

Westminster borough registered more than 1,000 knife crime offences in 2023 for the first time since 2019, data from the Metropolitan Police Service has revealed.

London was offered a reprieve when the pandemic struck and restrictions were put in place, as offences in Westminster almost halved between 2019 and 2020.

But numbers in the borough, which has the most offences in the whole of London, have since soared and are now closing in on pre-pandemic levels. 

The 1,006 offences recorded in Westminster over 2023 signalled a more than 25% increase in the area from the year prior, and approached the all-time high of 1,184 offences from 2019. 

The number of knife crime offences in Westminster over 2023 was near to reaching the all-time high of 1,184 in 2019

Crimes involving a knife are affecting young people more than any other demographic, as 67 of the 187 victims of offences with injury in Westminster last year were under the age of 24.

The Ben Kinsella Trust (BKT) is a charity that strives to put an end to knife crime through educating young people about the dangers of carrying a knife and the consequences involved. 

CEO Patrick Green said: “Politicians both at Westminster and across London need to come together and find solutions.

“Often there is a lot of finger pointing and blame from both sides about why things are the way they are, but the complexities of the problem require a multifaceted approach. It requires politicians to work together, and that’s what we need to see happening.”

Although, for Green, it is not just the role of the government that is vital in stopping knife crime, and that’s why the BKT has implemented an immersive exhibition to edify young people. 

He added: “Getting upstream and tackling it much earlier is hugely important, arguably more important than focusing on law and order.

“We use the stories of real experiences of knife crime and convey them through an immersive exhibition.  

“The exhibition teaches young people that, if you carry a knife, you are carrying a lifetime of pain, misery and suffering for everyone involved. 

“And, for the vast majority of those who attend, it’s a game-changer. Since 2011, we’ve helped more than 30,000 young people live safer, positive lives, and that’s what drives us on.”

Westminster registered the most knife crime offences in 2023, but London was riddled throughout

Reasons as to why Westminster, one of the wealthiest boroughs in the capital, is among the hotspots for knife crime can be attributed to the amount of transient visitors roaming the streets each day, making it a lucrative target for criminals. 

But, although Westminster saw the highest level of knife crime offences in the capital, south London boroughs Croydon (829) and Lambeth (756) were not far behind. 

One concern that has proven to be directly impacting knife crime is the negative role that social media plays and the effect it has on today’s younger generations. 

Green added: “We’ve seen in the work that we do with young people that there’s growing concern over what they see on social media feeds.

“The myth that a knife protects you is getting stronger, not weaker. 

“The Online Safety Act isn’t enough, social media companies have got to take control of what is happening on their platforms. 

“In my opinion, it’s directly influencing what we are seeing in terms of crime statistics.”

Although the numbers in London do speak for themselves, the worrying rise in knife crime is reflected in the national statistics. 

In England and Wales, there were 240 recorded homicide offences involving a knife between October 2022 and September 2023, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.

This made up 44% of the total number of homicides, but just under a third of these deaths were registered by the Metropolitan Police, putting London right at the heart of debate.

London is at the heart of debate when it comes to knife crime

Green spoke of the array of charities that are all doing different, but valuable, work to try and cut off knife crime at its earlier stages, which is vital to the cause. 

One of these is Steel Warriors, who melt down confiscated knives and recycle them into outdoor callisthenics gyms.

Head of marketing and community Christian d’Ippolito said: “Our proposal is to create safe spaces, that are free, to practice a free sport.

“We’ve enabled an environment in the community that’s interested in each other’s self development – it’s a self support network.”

Through its approach to building a UK-wide gym system, Steel Warriors aims to not only equip at-risk young people with the motivation to pursue their goals, but strengthen the togetherness of the community, particularly in London. 

d’Ippolito believes that, to put an end to knife crime, we must provide young people with more scope to work on themselves, rather than resorting to deviance. 

He added: “We need to provide more options that detract and take away certain choices in society and sport is a proven enabler of self development. 

“That’s why we need to create more opportunities for these practices to unfold in society.

“We teach the fundamentals – whether you’re into football, rock climbing or synchronised swimming, learning how to manage your own bodyweight and become proficient in that is going to aid your sporting prowess in whatever field.”

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