In recent years the number of violent crimes in the UK has been on the rise. Violent crimes are defined by the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) as ranging from common assault to murder, also including the use of weapons such as knives, guns and harmful substances like acid. According to CrimeRate between 2020 and 2021 there was a 12% increase in violence and sexual offences reported in the UK.
2020’s figure stood at 1,805,992 whereas the figure in 2021 stood at a staggering 2,051,932 offences, giving an overall crime rate of 34 per 1,000 people in 2021. Stabbings in London have also increased to 11,122 in 2021/2022, between 2021 and 2022 there were also a total of 124 homicides reported by the Police in London.
As the numbers are rising, people are rightly asking if they are safe, why is it happening, what is being done to stop this and are there children safe being out in the street on their own?
Why has there been a rise in violent crimes?
Some have suggested that the lockdowns during the pandemic are what have caused the flocculation of crime statistics. People were not out as much so the number of reported crimes had fallen, we must hasten to add though, this does not include the number of domestic abuse cases that went unreported throughout the lockdowns.
Whilst the lockdowns and more importantly the end of lockdowns, could potentially explain the sudden rise in numbers, it does not explain why more have been reported in comparison. According to the Cardiff University Violence Research Group, the overall trend in violent crime has fallen since 2005 but just after the lockdowns had ended there is an increase.
Hotspots for the rise in violent crime seem to be centred around bars, clubs and social gatherings. This could also support the idea that some believe that people being pent up for an amount of time and then let out again has made people less caring for others and more likely to react in an aggressive way to strangers.
It has also been suggested that those affected by violent crime are now speaking out more because, as it has been reported in the media that violent crime is ever more prevalent in a lot of areas in the UK, people want to do something to stop it or ensuring that justice is done for those who are the victims of it. Also, there are an increasing number of charities available to help those who have been the victim of a violent or sexual offence. This could also hint at a reason why people are willing to talk about it and speak about it now. There is more help available.
How is violent crime effecting children?
Many children’s charities are severely worried about the detrimental effect that the exposure to violence that children face. Though children are extremely unlikely to face violence at a bar, a club or a pub, the constant media cover and reports of violence near to their homes can also have an effect on young people. In some cases, making them worried or scared that they will be exposed to it or caught up in it when going out.
Children are most likely to witness or experience violence within their homes. Whether this is to themselves or to their parents or family. According to the National Office of Statistics, one in four women and one in six men in the UK experience abuse before the age of 16.
There has also been an alarming number of weapons that are confiscated in secondary schools around the UK. In 2019 over a thousand weapons were confiscated in schools and a total of 45,632 young people aged between 10 and 17 were sentenced for carrying an offensive weapon or a knife.
Early years abuse has been linked with the emergence of severe behavioural, social and mental concerns later in life. It is reported that through exposure to violence at a young age, individuals will grow up more likely to:
- Have behavioural, psychological, and physical problems
- Struggle with academia
- Suffer from alcohol and/or substance abuse
- Be delinquent
- Commit crimes as adults
PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) can also be attributed to any witnessing or exposure to violence or violent crimes. If not addressed early enough, this can lead to a deterioration of an individual’s mental health and possibly causing them further problems.
What is being done to reduce violent crime in the UK?
There are a number of initiatives and plans that government, police forces and local authorities have rolled out to help reduce the level of violent crime in the UK.
The government are recruiting 20,000 more police officers, they have increased funding for the police force and the Offensive Weapons Act has introduced new laws which will give the police extra powers to seize dangerous weapons.
In the hope of reducing crime in the most prolific areas for it, police forces will be stepping up and conducting more patrols whilst working together with local service users to identify and police the worst affected areas.
Their hope is to help put people’s mind at ease by showing a greater police presence and are hoping to stop criminal activity with the same tactic.
It is argued that this will not work as people are not put off from illegal activity because of the seemingly lenient justice system that doesn’t punish people for the crimes they have committed. Without a deterrent, some will not see the point of not doing what they can get away with, regardless of what potential damage they can do to the victim but also to the onlookers and witnesses.
It is hoped that with more policing, people will be put off from participating in violent crime, but until courts are less lenient with offenders, or seemingly less lenient than a lot of people would expect, then violent crime is likely to stay prevalent.
What do charities do to help?
With the rise in violent crime around the UK charities have their work cut out trying to provide services for both adults and children who need their help.Some charities are concerned with ensuring those who are at risk of becoming involved in violent crime have another outlet to steer them away, some support the victims of crime and some support communities that are suffering the most from prolific violent criminal activity.
Victim Support are a charity who care for children and adults who have been the victim of a range of crimes and abuse from sexual assault to GBH.
Power The Fight are working with young people to educate them away from confrontation, violence and especially knife crime. Through a series of talks, presentations, school visits and mentoring sessions, young children around the UK who may be impressionable to becoming part of a gang are educated about the dangers of being part of one and the dangers of knife and violent crime.
The aim of many charities in the UK who can potentially help with the rise of violent crime is to address the issue from every angle. Work with the perpetrators, community, victims, parents, law enforcement and local leaders, it is hoped that their strategies can work in reducing the number of violent crimes committed in the UK and the longer term effects on society.