One in six children think knife crime is a problem, survey reveals

Young person with a knife

Knife fears: Almost half of young people surveyed say harsher prison sentences could be the answer

One in six young people in England believe knife crime is a problem.

The Children's Commissioner sought the views of 1,700 children for the study on attitudes to gun and knife crime.

Seven per cent of eight to 17-year-olds felt guns were a problem. The figure rose to 15 per cent when asked about knives.

Almost half said longer prison sentences would be the best deterrent, while one third believed education about the consequences was the answer.

The 2 per cent of those aged 12 to 17 who admitted carrying a knife illegally said they did so out of fear or for self-protection.

Curfews were also a popular way to deter offenders from carrying a weapon again.

The online poll was carried out by 11 Million, an organisation which aims to give children a voice, and YouGov.

Children's Commissioner for England Sir Al Aynsley-Green said it was important not to 'breed fear' of violent crime among young people.

'There have been a number of fatal stabbings and shootings of young people in the last couple of years - every one has been tragic and they rightly attract attention.

'But at the same time, it is vital that we do not breed fear among young people - we know the numbers of carriers of weapons are low, and that often the main reasons for carrying, especially for knife carrying, are fear or self-protection and we must try to reduce that.

'That means all adults, from politicians, to police, to media, taking a responsible line
on this, and reassuring young people, rather than frightening or accusing them.'

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Alfred Hitchcock, who heads the anti-knife crime programme for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said the organisation strongly supported the research.

He said: 'The numbers of young people who commit or suffer serious violent crime are, thankfully, a small proportion of the total.

'While most young people go about their lives and are law-abiding citizens, there is still a small percentage of young people, about 2 per cent, who admit to carrying knives.'

No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now