Rise in UK knife attacks leads to a crackdown and stokes public anxiety

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Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak picks up a knife while visiting Harlow Police Station during a media visit in Harlow, Essex, England, Friday Feb. 16. (AP)

LONDON, May 12, (AP): A familiar horror reached Pooja Kanda first on social media: There had been a sword attack in London. And then Kanda, who was home alone at the time, saw a detail she dreaded and knew all too well.
A man with a sword had killed a 14-year-old boy who was walking to school. Two years ago, her 16-year-old son, Ronan, was killed by two sword-wielding schoolmates while walking to a neighbor’s to borrow a PlayStation controller.
“It took me back,” Kanda, who lives near Birmingham, said about Daniel Anjorin’s April 30 killing in an attack in London’s Hainault district that also wounded four people. “It’s painful to see that this has happened all over again.”
In parts of the world that ban or strictly regulate gun ownership, including Britain and much of the rest of Europe, knives and other types of blades are often the weapons of choice used in crimes. Many end up in the hands of children, as they can be cheap and easy to get.
Although the number of fatal stabbings has mostly held steady in England and Wales over the past 10 years, headline-grabbing attacks and an overall rise in knife crime have stoked anxieties and led to calls for the government to do more.
“Knife-enabled” crime – in which knives were used to commit crimes or someone was caught illegally possessing one – rose 7% in England and Wales last year,” the government said last month, noting some localities were not included. In London, such crimes jumped 20%. The other two UK countries, Scotland and Northern Ireland, keep their own statistics.
With knives so readily available, there’s only so much that can be done. Of the 244 fatal stabbings in England and Wales in the 12 months ending with March 2023 – the most recent figures available – 101 were committed with kitchen knives, far surpassing any other type of blade, according to the Office of National Statistics.
But the uptick in knife crime and a steady drumbeat of shocking attacks, including those that killed Ronan Kanda, Daniel Anjorin and three people in Nottingham last year, has pushed the issue to the forefront.
“It seems like every day something like this is reported in the press,” Sanjoy O’Malley-Kumar, whose 19-year-old daughter Grace O’Malley-Kumar was among the Nottingham victims, said on “Good Morning Britain” after the recent attack in London.

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