Leading experts on gang culture, county lines and violent crime, as well as MPs, Church and community leaders, have used a conference on knife crime in Chatham, to issue a call to Government to ban the sale of pointed domestic knives.
The urgent and timely conference, called The Point, convened as recent statistics show that there has been an 80% rise in knife crime in the UK since 2014.
A petition has now also been started, which if it receives enough signatures, could see the matter debated in Parliament. Sign the petition here
Issuing their open letter, published in the Sunday Times today (Sunday 22 September), signatories urge Government to "take urgent measures to promote the sale of safe kitchen knife designs and restrict those designs which have been used in so many acts of violence."
The letter endorses research, highlighted at the conference, which explains that points on domestic knives are historic and no-longer necessary:
"Historically we needed a point on the end of our knife to pick up food because forks weren’t invented. Now we only need the point to open packets when we can’t be bothered to find the scissors."
"A five-year study in Edinburgh found that of the sharp instruments used in homicides, 94% were kitchen knives. Research demonstrates kitchen knives are used in a large percentage of homicides due to their availability and lethal nature.
"Criminologists have demonstrated that reducing availability in turn reduces crime."
The letter concludes:
"The UK has worked for the public good by restricting handguns, paracetamol, smoking in public and plastic bags – now it is time to say ‘no bloody point.’
The letter and conference form part of a month of awareness raising activities about the dangers of knife crime in September, supported by the Diocese of Rochester - the Church of England in Medway, north and west Kent and the London Boroughs of Bromley and Bexley.
These include a special service held in Rochester Cathedral on Saturday 21 September, reflecting on knife crime.
Addressing the service, Bishop Simon Burton-Jones, the Bishop of Tonbridge, said that there was never one victim of knife crime:
"Knife crime rips up the lives of families and friends, piercing the networks that give us life, meaning and support."
He went on:
"Knife crime can be reduced if we follow the evidence trail, devote our resources to the right places, share knowledge smartly and value the organising power of local communities.
"The Church has a role to play, for it is located in most, if not all, places."
An installation of the ‘Knife Angel’ will remain at Rochester Cathedral until the end of September; so far, over 5,000 visitors to the monument have signed a book, pledging not to carry knives.