I’ve been back in the UK for just over six months, and the bottom line is I felt safer back in South Korea, at the height of the Trump-Kim stand-off, than I do now in London!
After 2018 recorded the highest number of knife crimes, 2019’s tally began in the wee hours of New Years Day, and by March the running total of fatalities due to stabbing stood at 40. The police have since called knife crime in the UK “national emergency”.
Studies have suggested that this surge is linked to budget cuts. This isn’t in doubt, but there’s another glaringly obvious elephant in the room.
Whether you’re for it or against it, our politicians appear too caught up in their battles of self-preservation and denial, demonstrating the in-capabilities of many to think of anyone other than themselves. The result? The nation suffers. Everything else is ignored. The British Government has taken it’s eye off the ball, and one of the many results of the simmering tensions and dissatisfaction is a rise in crime rates; stabbings and motorbike muggings ever on the rise.
And how do you defend yourself?
I was nearly cornered by two helmeted bikers who slowed down and stopped beside us late at night, and it was not for a social chat. The only reason it went no further, I am sure, is because we were not the only ones on the street – a main thoroughfare from the tube station. I was jumping at the sound of a motorbike for the rest of the night. But what could I have done?
The legal avenues of defence in the UK are limited.
A 16 year old, the BBC reported today, was able to buy from leading supermarkets and stores. It is illegal to sell them to anyone under the age of 18. As for pepper spray, it is considered an offensive weapon. I have discovered that there may be a legal alternative, which begs the question: Why isn’t this information more readily available? In the interests of safety, such information should be front and centre, I shouldn’t have to go looking for it.
Never mind that, I shouldn’t feel more threatened by walking home after dark – and I don’t mean night time, which doesn’t bode well for the winter months – than I did when the possibility of missile attacks were not only a daily threat, but a part of every-day reality.
After all that, I don’t have an answer. Money, I have no doubt, would help, but it has to be used in the right way. I have no doubt it doesn’t stop at funding cuts for youth centres. It’s more than that. The sheer expense of living, especially in London, has something to answer for. Once rent and bills are out of the way, there’s little in the bank left for anything else. And that anything else is more often than not alarmingly expensive, and I’m not even thinking beyond transport and sustenance.
As with anything, no doubt it will get worse before it get’s better. Downside is, I’m not sure we have anyone in government who can facilitate the changes needed.
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