Knife crime hysteria


In June 2006, knife crime became the latest media-hyped panic. The UK press reported an "epidemic" of stabbings. The official crime figures showed something different: no rise in knife killings in the last decade. In 1995 there were 243 murders with sharp instruments; in the year prior to the 2006 media hysteria there were 236. Over the last decade the average weekly number of knife murders has been four and a half. In the midst of the 2006 panic, there were no more than four knife murders a week.

Neither politicians nor the media tried to reassure the public with these facts. They instead fueled the usual hysteria-fest, with political parties responding by competing to be "toughest" on crime. In fact, overall crime continues to steadily decrease, down 43% since 1995 (according to the authoritative British Crime Survey), and is also falling in Europe.

Following the knife crime panic, Tony Blair held a crime seminar in Downing Street. According to reports from dismayed criminologists who attended (as relayed by the Guardian columnist, Polly Toynbee), Blair "seemed to mix together low-level antisocial behaviour with serious crime, terror and other international crime into a single pot of alarm". (Guardian, 9/6/06),,329500440-103390,00.html