Will stop and search ever end knife crime?

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On Thursday, January 11th, 25-year-old model Harry Uzoka was stabbed to death in Shepherd’s Bush, London. His death brings the total of fatal stabbings to 5 since the start of 2018.

In response, rapper Dave tweeted his feelings on why it’s important to bring back police stop and searches:

But frankly, stop and searches don’t work:

  • Nearly 3/4 of all stop-and-searches result in nothing being found.
  • Only 14% of stops lead to an arrest.
  • 15% of searches did not have reasonable grounds.
  • In 2008, Operation BLUNT 2 dramatically increased the number of weapon searches in London.  However, the Home Office’s found: ‘no statistically significant crime-reducing effect from the large increase in weapons searches during the course of Operation BLUNT 2.’

Knife crime exists for three reasons:

Discrimination

Alienation

Empowerment

Discrimination

Racism, discrimination is illegal right? But:

  • Black people are EIGHT times as likely to be stopped, despite white people being more likely to be found in possession of drugs. (Source: criminaljusticealliance.org)
  • BME communities are disproportionately targeted by the police, more likely to be imprisoned and more likely to be imprisoned for longer than white British people. (Source: instituteforracerelations)
  • BME offenders are more likely to receive custodial sentences than their white counterparts, even for the same crime – suggesting a degree of institutional racism in the courts.
  •  A US study found that teachers punish black students more severely than white students (Source: sagejournals)
  • Black and minority children perform better in education than white people, but suffer higher levels of unemployment than white people (Source: gov.uk)

From the moment black children enter society they are systemically made to feel as if they aren’t a part if it. Everything from language to fashion sense is policed. Why is a black kid in an all black Nike tracksuit a ‘roadman‘? But a white man in a Lacoste cap and an England shirt isn’t immediately seen as football hooligan?

Alienation

You can’t just lock everyone up and expect the problem to go away. The factors behind children as young as 5 carrying knives stretch beyond hip hop and bad parenting.

‘The murder rate is most closely associated with the socioeconomic health of the country. The murder rate in the U.S. was highest during the Depression. Also, the majority of people on death row are from the most blighted parts of the U.S. They are very poor and very impoverished.’ –Dr. Jonathan Groner

Similarly in Scotland knife crime has been on a steady decline because they focused on the actual problem and didn’t just keep locking people up.

“Reducing violent deaths among young people requires social policies that tackle the root causes, not criminal justice policies that, at best, can only keep a lid on the problem,” -Richard Garside, director of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies

Key word: social. As in ‘society’. People end up in prison because they don’t obey the rules of society. People don’t obey the rules of society because they don’t feel a part of it. Take any Nazi, football hooligan, or islamic terrorist and they may shout about joining an extremist group to fight against ‘immigrants‘ and ‘infidels‘; but dig a little deeper and it’s all the same thing: ‘Family‘, ‘belonging‘, ‘feeling accepted‘.  It’s simply about being accepted.

 

Empowerment

Masculinity is about power.

There are 3 fundamentals of power:

Class
Money
Strength

The two purposes of power are success and defence. People with money can usually buy their way into success and out of trouble; the same goes for people of a higher class, except their family name tends to do most of the heavy lifting. And strength comes with fear/respect and that respect can be turned into a level of success. They can also punch their way out of any trouble.

But when some men are severely lacking in any of these areas, they take drastic measures to get it back.

  • Elliot Rodger was the son of a famous Hollywood director; but he complained about rejection from girls that resulted in him carrying out the Isla Vista killings.
  • The boys that carried out The Columbine Massacre constantly felt alienated from their school peers.
  • A study also found that the reason so many white American men cling to their guns is simply because they are disempowered in every other area. They tend to be lower class, with little money or even physical power, a gun and the threat of using it gives them that power/fear and respect back.
  • On a similar level there are a number of young black men that do feel equally powerless and alienated from the society and find empowerment in violence.

So essentially as long as there is one person carrying a knife to feel empowered; others will carry knives out of fear.

And it’s all well and good saying things like:

Real men fight with their hands…

But what if you can’t? What if you can, but the person you’re fighting has a knife? If the prize for fighting ‘like a man‘ is being stabbed to death, it’s no wonder so many young people carry knives. It’s easy to provide one sentence solutions when it’s not a situation you’ll ever be faced with.

Which brings us to Dave. Yes, ‘I don’t wanna dead no beef‘ Dave. Whether or not he actually carried guns or knives is irrelevant. But there’s a reason the majority of young rappers don’t talk about taking their grandmothers to church; it’s because violence is empowering.
It’s empowering to make violent music, it’s even empowering to listen to. If you’re old enough you’ll remember the chaos that would occur when Lethal Bizzle’s ‘Forward Riddim’ would come on in a club. It wasn’t because anyone literally wanted ‘Crack your skull!‘ but the aggressive energy was a (usually) healthy release for 3 minutes. (See also: Metal music)  That’s why kids from the suburbs love the music as much as the people making it.

So Dave whether it was committing acts of violence or simply rapping about it, at one point Dave felt empowered by violence. But all of a sudden he wants stop and searches brought back now that his money and success will prevent him from being affected by them.

When yet another young person has been fatally stabbed no one wants to hear that preventative measures are the only solution. But they are. That’s it.

It starts with:

  • Changing racist attitudes towards black youth.
  • Public funding for services to build tighter knit communities (instead the government is making devastating cuts that will have a dramatic effect on those same communities)
  • Build a real relationship between local communities and the police. Children need to grow up with police. Tommy Norman shouldn’t be the exception, he should be the rule. This also ensures that police will eventually stop seeing black kids as criminals and instead treat them like people. And similarly kids will stop seeing police as the enemy and instead as what they’re supposed to be: help.

The saddest part is if all of these policies are implemented immediately and it will still take years for people to stop being stabbed. And once there is another high profile victim; there will again be calls for the mayor/prime minister to ‘get tough on crime‘ and then more stop and searches, driving a further wedge between communities and the police, allowing the same people to feel alienated again so the problem will continue. A snake eating its tail.

If a pipe bursts and the floor is flooded; do you continually mop up the water? Or do you turn water off?

Please share! https://www.gofundme.com/HarryUzokaFund