The current situation regarding knife crime is tragic but comes as no surprise to me and every operational police officer I know. When she was Home Secretary Theresa May and the Met Commissioner made changes to stop and search because it was politically expedient to do so at the time. The only surprise is that it’s taken so long for the current hideous state of affairs to materialise. When young men have little fear of being caught in possession of a knife there is little to deter them from carrying one.
During my 30 years of service the police have been batted between two no-win positions: accusations of racism based on the disproportionate numbers of black people they stop and search, and accusations of racism because the tragic murders of young black men are not properly dealt with.
It is the police who desperately try to save these poor young men as they bleed to death in front of us and who then have to deal with the unimaginable grief of their families.
In the UK the police rightly need the consent of the public to police. The public, politicians and commentators need to decide if the community tension created by stop and search outweighs the slaughter of young men.
What is certain is that we cannot continue to expect the police to reduce knife crime and then accuse them of singling out people once it is under control.
If we really want to put an end to the horrors of knife crime, the solution is quite simple. [“Rudd: We need new approach to end London knife carnage”, February 19]. The authorities need to bring in new laws and custodial sentences that befit the crime.
In simple terms, anyone found carrying a knife or similar type of weapon should receive an automatic minimum 10-year custodial sentence — this would soon put a stop to these horrific crimes.
Almost everyone I speak to agrees with me on this matter. I struggle to understand why the current sentences are so lenient when this is such a serious issue.
Isn’t it ironic that people in the UK can criticise the US for its gun laws and the mass shootings that occur as a result, yet when it comes to dealing with our own epidemic of knife crime in London we seem to shy away from the task.
Stop and search is often mentioned as a solution but it is nothing more than a stop-gap and has caused problems in specific neighbourhoods where people feel they are targeted. If there was some form of Government incentive for people to hand in their weapons perhaps it might encourage people to give up knives for good?
Good Friday accord is beyond the EU
MATTHEW O’Toole has got it wrong about Brexiteers and the Good Friday Agreement [Comment, February 21].
It does have inherent faults, not least assigning de facto permanent joint rule to the two largest sectarian parties of the province. However, it was only introduced into the Brexit debate when the Irish Government, backed by the EU, claimed falsely that the British Government was risking renewed violence by refusing to remain in the customs union.
Both British negotiators and Brexiteers found this baffling. They saw the Good Friday Agreement as permanent and irrelevant. It was the Irish and the EU who quite irresponsibly used it to up the ante over Brexit. If they don’t like the result — renewed focus on the agreement in the light of the breakdown of joint rule — they only have themselves to blame.
Professor Alan Sked
It seems that 62 Conservative MPs from the European Research Group (ERG) are calling for a hard Brexit. Isn’t this another case of the tail wagging the dog?
There are 650 MPs in Parliament, of whom only a few are vocal enough to stand up to the ERG, which is acting like a party within a party.
Parliament is sovereign and always has been. It is time it exerted its authority and got rid of the ERG, which is tainting our democracy.
Courts must rule on social media posts
I agree in part with the comments of Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales [“Wikipedia boss: No regrets over bad decisions”, February 21].
Certainly, some of the politicians’ ideas for regulating social media platforms could be a problem. Users understand that when they make posts they are not submitting drafts for editing by professionals — the user, not the platform, is the publishers.
It is reasonable to expect platforms to take illegal material down as soon as possible, but it must be ultimately for the courts, not any executive branch of government, to rule on what is lawful if that issue is contested.
Shame on those who dump their rubbish
Vicky Richardson’s excellent article [“A rubbish revolution is required”, Homes & Property, February 21] made a lot of sense . But the big problem for London is also how domestic rubbish is handled.
I live on a beautiful street in South Kensington and the basement of our building has a vermin problem because of these rubbish mountains. It has taken Kensington and Chelsea council months to address it.
Many people are guilty of simply throwing bags onto the street in front of their house or building and take no notice of collection dates. The result is that London’s streets are becoming smelly, unhygienic and unsightly.
I am Finnish and I can say with some certainty that if this happened in Scandinavia people would take action — we love our beautiful streets. The council is doing what it can but the real responsibility lies with residents. Anyone who throws their domestic rubbish onto the street should be fined and shamed.