The cops’ crackdown on knife crime is failing—even on its own authoritarian terms.
A police pilot, targeting people as young as 12 years old, hasn’t led to a single court action during its first six weeks.
The Metropolitan Police launched a 14-month pilot of Knife Crime Prevention Orders (KCPOs) on 7 July. They allow courts to impose restrictions on people they believe are “on the cusp” of violence.
Cops applied for two orders—and magistrates turned both down.
The pilot gives police to apply to magistrates’ courts for orders on any person they believe to be carrying blades, regularly has knives or has knife-related convictions. KCPOs include curfews, restrictions on social media use and bans on travel outside certain boundaries.
And courts can force people to go to educational courses, sports clubs, relationship counselling, anger management and drug rehabilitation.
Breaches of any of these can lead to a prison term of up to two years.
The pilot is part of the Tories’ law and order crackdown. They claim their Beating Crime Plan is about their undetermined plan of “levelling up” areas of the country they deem to be troublesome.
But the plan, launched in July, says it would permanently relax rules for cops to “empower police to take more knives off the streets”.
This gives cops a licence to stop and search people at will.
Black people are currently nine times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people.
The Beating Crime Plan also included expanding electronic monitoring tags for people released from prison and even alcohol tags to monitor how much they drink. And it talked about making unpaid work by offenders, such as cleaning the streets and public spaces, “more visible”.
And the draconian Police Bill—which is going through the Lords—will intensify cops’ harassment of black people through stop and search.
Since a rise in knife-related violence between 2017 and 2018, the Tories have used knife crime as an excuse to put more police on the streets.
But police don’t stop knife crime.
More cops and more powers mean more repression, which hits young black people particularly hard.
The roots of knife-related violence lie in deep social problems, which will not be solved by the police. To begin to tackle those problems, reversing all the Tory cuts in education, benefits, housing, mental health services and youth services would be a good start.