Just Sociology

Reducing Knife Crime in London: Left and Right Realist Strategies

The murder rate in London has seen a significant increase in recent years, with 46 murders in 2018 alone, many of which were committed using knives. Knife crime has become a prominent issue, being implemented in 3/4 of murders in London, which is twice the national average.

The rise in knife crime and violent crime has been a matter of concern and has prompted discussions on the underlying causes and possible solutions. This article delves into the statistics and causes of the increase in murders in London and offers potential solutions to address this issue.

Statistics of the Increase

In the past year, London has seen a surge in violent crime, with 46 murders in 2018 alone. The majority of these murders were committed using knives, with 31 stabbings reported.

The number of knife crimes has been steadily increasing over the years, with a long-term increase in violent crime being observed. In the first three months of 2018, there were 8 murders in January, 15 in February and 22 in March, indicating a worrying trend.

Knife Crime

Knife crime has become a prevalent issue in the UK, being implemented in 3/4 of murders in London. The rate of knife crime usage in violent crime is twice the national average.

In addition, the increase in knife crime has led to a rise in youth violence, with teenagers being both the perpetrators and victims. This issue is exacerbated by the availability of knives, which can be easily purchased online or in stores, and the general normalization of carrying knives in some communities.

Decrease in Police Stop and Search

One of the key factors contributing to the increase in knife crime is the decrease in police stop and search activity. Stop and search measures were once regarded as an effective way of proactively tackling violent crime.

Since the introduction of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, the number of stop and search activity conducted in London has significantly decreased. This decrease in proactive measures can lead to a sense of alienation among the youth, which can, in turn, lead to an increase in violence in certain areas.

Stiffening Penalties

Another factor that has been proposed to combat the rise in knife crime is the stiffening of penalties for violent offenders. However, despite the increase in custodial sentences, the chances of getting caught when carrying knives remain low.

Therefore, this solution may not be an effective deterrent. Furthermore, when harsh penalties are implemented, it can lead to further alienation, particularly among the youth, and reinforce inequalities within society.

Socioeconomic Factors

Socioeconomic factors, such as poverty and inequality, have also been identified as potential underlying causes of the increase in knife crime. Young people living in communities with low social mobility and a lack of opportunities can turn to a life of gangs and violence as an outlet for their frustrations.

Gang involvement can also provide a sense of belonging and identity for those who feel excluded from mainstream society.

Increased Police Presence and Stop and Search

One of the proposed solutions to address the increase in knife crime is to increase police presence in affected areas and reintroduce stop and search measures. This would involve a targeted approach with a focus on community engagement to build trust with the affected communities.

Increased police presence can also deter potential violent offenders from carrying knives in public. Although stop and search measures can be controversial, when carried out effectively and equitably, it can be an effective way of preventing the incidence of violent crimes.

Early Intervention and Prevention

Another possible solution to the increase in violent crime is to invest in youth programs, education, and job training. Providing opportunities and positive role models can prevent disillusionment and disengagement, which can lead to violence.

Early intervention and prevention programs can also address the underlying messages and attitudes that normalize violent behavior among young people.

Addressing Socioeconomic Disparities

Addressing socioeconomic disparities is a vital aspect of any approach to reduce violent crime in London. Investing in affordable housing, job creation, and tackling inequality can tackle the root causes of crime, including gang involvement and poverty.

However, this is a long-term goal and requires sustained efforts over time to achieve significant progress.


The issue of rising violent crime and murder rates in London is a significant issue that needs attention. While the causes are multifaceted and complex, the solutions require a coordinated and multifaceted approach.

A comprehensive and targeted approach that addresses the underlying socioeconomic factors, early intervention and prevention, and effective policing and enforcement measures, can go a long way in reducing the incidence of violent crime in the UK’s capital. 3: Responses to Reducing Knife Crime

As London’s murder rate continues to rise, with a significant number of these cases involving knives, the need for effective responses grows ever more urgent.

This article has identified possible solutions, including increasing police presence, implementing a targeted stop and search approach, investing in youth programs, education, and job training, and addressing socioeconomic disparities. In this expansion piece, we will explore and analyze two additional approaches to reducing knife crime – left realist strategies and right realist strategies.

Left Realist Strategies

A left realist approach to reducing knife crime involves a public health approach to violent crime. The focus of this approach is to address the root causes of crime by implementing major interventions through youth workers, educating young people, and providing support through mental health charities.

The primary objective of the public health approach is to address the socioeconomic factors that contribute to youth involvement in violent crime. This is achieved through a coordinated and sustained effort to change the social and economic conditions that make young people vulnerable to violence.

One of the ways of implementing the public health approach is community-focused youth initiatives. This involves providing resources and support to youths in disadvantaged areas.

These initiatives could include implementing sports fields, organizing community events, and facilitating access to educational programs that equip youths with life skills. The focus of these initiatives is to target the underlying causes of crime by providing positive outlets for young people to engage with their communities and foster a sense of civic responsibility.

Another effective strategy in the public health approach is the implementation of mental health support services. Mental health charities such as Mind could provide counseling services to young people that may have experienced trauma, which can make them more susceptible to involvement in violent crime.

By providing targeted support to young people that are suffering from mental health issues, we can help to reduce the underlying issues that may contribute to the epidemic of youth violence.

Right Realist Strategies

Right realist strategies to reducing knife crime differ from left realist approaches, and are more contingent on harsh and authoritarian measures. The right realist approach seeks to address the problem of violent crime through the enhancement of policing and security measures.

The central objectives of this approach are to increase the likelihood of arrest, improve policing, and raise accountability. Two key strategies employed by right realists are increasing stop and search and implementing a random strategy.

The first strategy, increasing stop and search, involves police officers searching individuals they suspect are in possession of weapons. This measure can serve to deter individuals from carrying knives and provide a sense of security to residents of high-risk areas.

Although there is some controversy surrounding stop and search, history has shown that it is a useful police tactic. A well-organised and executed stop and search policy can play an essential role in reducing knife crime, particularly if targeted at high-risk areas and individuals.

Another right realist strategy is implementing a random strategy. This approach involves random searches of individuals across London, with no targeting or profiling.

Although the use of a random strategy may be unpopular with some members of the public, it can be an effective way of minimizing the visibility of young people carrying knives. The random strategy can be beneficial in areas where violent crime is high but difficult to address using traditional policing measures.

The implementation of a random strategy ensures that no one feels unfairly targeted or stigmatized.


The epidemic of youth violence involving knives in London requires urgent attention, and it is clear that no single approach will effectively address the problem. Rather, a coordinated and sustained long-term effort involving various stakeholders in London is necessary to address the underlying causes of violent crime.

While the possible responses to addressing knife crime can be divided into left realist strategies and right realist strategies, it is crucial to acknowledge that a multifaceted approach combining both perspectives is the most effective way to tackle this issue. It is up to the government, policing agencies, and local communities to initiate and support these different approaches to achieve real progress.

Ultimately, the implementation of the proposed solutions requires an intersectional approach that dismantles structural inequalities and addresses the root causes of violent crime. In conclusion, the rise in violent crime and murder rates in London is a complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach.

This article explored various possible solutions, including increased police presence, targeted stop and search measures, investment in youth programs, education and job training, and addressing socioeconomic disparities. We also analyzed left realist and right realist strategies and their potential impact on reducing knife crime.

Ultimately, addressing violent crime in London requires a coordinated effort from government, policing agencies, and local communities to address the root causes of violent crime and dismantle socioeconomic inequalities.


Q: What is causing the rise in knife crime in London?

A: The rise in knife crime is due to various factors such as the decrease in police stop and search, socioeconomic factors such as poverty and inequality, and the normalization of carrying knives in certain communities. Q: How can we address the issue of knife crime in London?

A: Possible solutions include implementing targeted stop and search, investing in youth programs, education and job training, and addressing socioeconomic disparities. Q: Will an increase in policing be enough to address the issue of knife crime?

A: While increasing policing can be a part of the solution, it is crucial to address the root causes of violent crime such as poverty, inequality, and lack of opportunities. Q: Is mental health support essential in reducing violent crime?

A: Mental health support is crucial in providing counseling services for children who may have experienced trauma, and addressing mental health issues that can contribute to the root causes of crime. Q: Will random searches be effective in reducing knife crime?

A: While random searches can be beneficial in high-risk areas, it is crucial to implement targeting measures alongside a random strategy to efficiently address the issue.

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