Leading article

Knife crime must be tackled

Stephen Oreilly

There has been huge media coverage of the surge in knife crime in London and several other English cities over the past few months.

It cannot be denied that there has been an increase, with at times deaths being reported two or three nights in a row.

However we do not need to look that far from home to find deaths and injuries being inflicted with the use of knives.

At the weekend a 21-year-old man died as the result of stab wounds sustained during an incident in Crumlin.

Another young man was hospitalised with serious injuries as a result of the same incident. Four people were last night still being questioned by police investigating the death.

On Thursday night during an apparent robbery in the centre of Belfast a man was assaulted and threatened with a knife by several men who stole a mobile phone and money.

Several weeks ago a teenage girl and a man in his 20s were left injured by knife wounds in separate incidents on different nights in Lurgan.

On that occasion SDLP Upper Bann MLA Dolores Kelly spoke of her horror at the injuries.

And the policing board member made some important observations, saying: "There is no excuse for carrying a knife or blade in public. Not only is it a criminal offence, it increases the carrier's risk of becoming the victim of knife crime."

It is important that anyone tempted to go out armed with a knife realises that they could end up with a criminal record even if they have never used the potentially lethal weapon.

That could have very serious consequences for many things in later life, things such as employment opportunities.

It is equally important that these people should fully understand that statistics indicate that the decision to carry a knife will put them at greater risk of being injured, or worse, killed themselves.

There is no doubt that the authorities face a difficult task in preventing the carrying of such lethal weapons and therefore their use.

Knives are common everyday objects used in the home countless times a day.

A licence is not needed for their purchase. Although some major shopping chains have voluntarily introduced a policy of stopping the sale of individual knives.

It is important that people are dissuaded from being tempted to carry these weapons.

Those conversations should take place in the home and perhaps in schools.

Prevention of knife crime should be the priority, with the apprehension of offenders also a priority.

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