The Knives of Brixton


Reader Val sends along this story, which is currently dominating news cycles in both England and France, of two French students in murdered in London, who were bound, stabbed 240 times, and set alight. A man confessed to the killing today, though his motive remains unclear.

The problem of knife violence in the UK is "so serious," according to the Globe and Mail, "that the Metropolitan Police, Britain's major police force, told officers this week that their top priority had shifted from Islamic terrorism to knife crimes."

A few years back, researchers writing in the British Medical Journal called for a ban on kitchen knives, after the team "consulted 10 top chefs from around the UK, and found such knives have little practical value in the kitchen." Watch for the reintroduction of such suggestions, especially since, according to the Times, "Every initiative [taken by the police] has failed to stop the stabbings in the capital." And as the Globe and Mail reminds readers, the police are already "authorized to stop young people without cause and search them for weapons, and such searches have become commonplace in London."

But despite the breathless reporting of the British tabloid press, the paper notes that, overall, knife crime—and violent crime in general—is actually on the decline:

In some respects, Britain's knife terror is a fear without an underlying story: The number of knife crimes in Britain has not actually increased, even if this year's London stabbings are included, and violent crime across the country and in London is at its lowest level in two decades; in fact, violent crime rates dropped by another 9 per cent last year. On the whole, the country remains far safer than North America.

Full story.