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Why is knife crime increasing?

global g2

I’ve spent my entire adult life learning and studying the use of global g2 knives and, more importantly, defense against such weapons, and as part of that journey I ended up training hundreds of frontline professionals on the exact risks and detailed physical aspects and consequences of a ‘sharp weapon attack’.

In 2009 I decided to start my company which develops and supplies specialized PPE with the aim of further protecting front line professionals from this very specific threat.

Aspects of knife crime

Before I go into some aspects of knife crimes and share my professional opinion, I want to mention one single thing that is of paramount importance when confronting someone with a knife, even if they look like they have no idea what they are doing.

Steve Collins, a man who founded PS5 in 1986, now an internationally recognized consultancy that trains law enforcement, defense and security sectors in countries around the world, once said, “There’s a handful of highly skilled people out there that could disarm you, your Pick up knife and stab yourself with it four times before you realize you’re no longer holding the knife, so when you’re faced with the horror of a real knife attack and, for whatever reason, forgot to put it on your full medieval battle armor , then don’t be a joke, run away!”

A point supported by a certain American soldier who recently posted a video on YouTube. Please search for TouTube user “Mr. Obnoxious” and his short but very clever video titled “Hand To Hand Combat”.

Exactly at this point I am faced with the question “what is the best defense against a knife ” !

A barely noticeable small cut in the wrong place can undoubtedly lead to rapid blood loss and subsequently be the last curtain in a person’s life, and these “wrong places” are unfortunately, but most likely, exposed in a hand-to-hand combat situation.

Understand the running away

However, we must also understand that running away is not always possible. This fact is most likely determined by two factors, one being your job and the other being your environment.

Let me briefly address the life-threatening global problem of edged weapons. A few headlines and data will give us a clearer picture of some pretty horrific violent edged weapon incidents from around the world and help us understand that this is a global problem that is not limited to any particular belief, language, culture or restricted to a particular country (although we must accept that certain Central American countries have topped the “homicides per capita” table for a number of years).


2014 – 33 people were killed and 130 others injured when a group of men coordinated a terrorist attack using knives at a railway station in southwest China’s Yunnan province.

2015 – 50 workers at a Chinese coal mine were killed in a coordinated knife attack. Fifty other workers were injured.

2016 – A man killed 15 people and injured 45 at a facility for the disabled and later turned himself in to police.

2016 – A man in southern Hainan Province stabbed 10 children before killing himself.

2017 – 18 people walking down a city street were injured when a man attacked them with a knife

2017 – 13 people were seriously injured by a knife-wielding attacker at a Beijing mall. A woman died from her injuries.

But of course we can also see that other countries share this new global risk/threat:

  • UK: The 250th fatal stabbing in the UK was recorded on November 7 when a 16-year-old man lost his life. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the 14,987 knife crimes in the year to the end of June represented a 15 percent increase from the previous 12 months. According to various sources, the total number of crimes involving a knife or bladed instrument recorded by police in the year to March 2018 rose to 40,147, a seven-year high.
  • Germany: Newspapers also reported a serious increase in knife crime, telling us that “…in the first five months of 2017 alone, more than 1,600 knife crimes were reported in Germany, an average of 300 every month or 10 days.”
  • Belgium , two soldiers were attacked by a man with a knife, and a few months ago, on a holiday, a prisoner stabbed two police officers to death before taking their guns and shooting at them. On November 20th this year (2018), a police officer was attacked by a knife-wielding man in front of the police station in Brussels.
  • France: On May 13 this year, four people were injured and one killed when a knife-wielding attacker shouted ” Allahu ” Akbar ‘ attacked them in Paris. Another incident that made headlines in France was the injury of seven people by a man carrying a knife and iron bar.
  • Canada: In 2016, a university professor was stabbed and killed on an evening stroll. A woman was stabbed at an underground Shoppers Drug Mart and two soldiers were slashed and injured at a military recruiting center. In September 2017, a grandfather was brutally stabbed nearly 100 times in broad daylight on the street by a knife-wielding stranger.
  • Australia : On November 9 in Melbourne, a man set profimesser fire to a car and stabbed three people, one fatally. He died in hospital after being shot dead by police.
  • Israel: Just a few days ago, on November 14, a terrorist injured seven police officers in a knife attack in Jerusalem.

John McShane compiles a catalog of the most notorious knife murders in Britain in recent years. Describing the 1995 murder of Philip Lawrence, he explains that it “marked the beginning of an age when the response to a confrontation was no longer verbal or even rough physicality, compassion or morality, think only of yourself and not that .” Chaos inflicted on those in his path or their loved ones.”

Society where individuals

Well, no question, we live in a society where people care a lot less about each other than they used to, and you can also see a lack of compassion in parts of the world today.

Any time someone commits murder or physical harm, by physical contact, by choking, hitting, or in these cases, stabbing, it always speaks to a level of anger and sometimes even a personal connection with the victim, but it most certainly reflects as well an incredible lack of compassion.

Extremely graphic

When you stab someone, it’s close and in your face. The experience is extremely vivid. It kind of tells a story of hate or anger, and I think more and more people are getting more and more angry and frustrated with life in general. Sometimes I look at people and see them as “pressure cookers”. Many people in today’s society are under pressure, either financially, emotionally, mentally or physically. However, a person can only withstand a certain amount of pressure, but eventually most people will “explode” if they have not learned to “let off steam” in a controlled manner and in an environment where no harm can be done. Others have learned from the start to find a more balanced and satisfying lifestyle. Many of these individuals have “exploded” and taken action fueled by added anger, hate, disappointment, or frustration. They couldn’t control themselves or just didn’t want to.

I believe that five things in particular make a significant contribution to the increase in violent crime with edged weapons.

  1. Poverty and social exclusion : Knife crime and knife carrying are undoubtedly symptoms of a broader societal problem. Knife crime is most prevalent in the poorest and most deprived places, where violence is a clear sign of deeper problems such as poverty and social exclusion. This subsequent lack of “sense of belonging” often leads to a desire to become a member of a gang, ultimately leading to the need to carry and eventually use a knife.
  2. Drugs: The manufacture, trafficking and trafficking of drugs has always been associated with violence. It comes simply as a “package”. You cannot produce, transport and trade drugs without enforcing certain aspects of the process. Firearms have historically been used extensively and are still the weapon of choice in some regions, but in a growing number of countries we are already seeing and will continue to see a shift towards the use of edged weapons and I will highlight why for a second is.
  3. Serious Mental Illness: Many of those responsible for multiple edged weapon killings were diagnosed with severe mental illness before or after the killings. I remember the particular case of Ashleigh Ewing very well. Ashleigh was a 22-year-old psychiatrist who was stabbed 39 times in a frantic knife attack by a paranoid schizophrenic she was visiting in Newcastle. I have used this rather shocking example in several training sessions for “lone workers”, particularly those who work alone and enter the homes of others (health care, utilities, housing, real estate agencies and social services to name a few).
  4. Religious/Political Extremism: When you are so completely misguided and so extremely blinded that you genuinely believe that hurting or killing others is the absolute only way to achieve happiness/ fulfilment or your ultimate goal (whatever that may be). achieve… then you are unlikely to stop continuing with your action.
  5. Social Media: Social media has also been blamed for the increase in knife crime, with some experts arguing that social media means everything to these knife-wielding criminals. Some even say that there might have been situations in the past where someone would have walked away and backed out, but now people are recording these attacks and videos of larger knife attacks. These videos are streamed millions of times, providing each and every one with those “minutes of fame” and more “followers” and, according to them, so many who craved “respect” and fear of them.

Why can we see a shift from guns to knives?

in most countries. Selling or buying firearms, exporting or importing firearms, carrying or transporting these guns nowadays involves real risk. Due to the threat of global terrorism, intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies around the world are watching all metal firing projectiles to kill people. The risk of being arrested while buying/selling/transporting firearms is just too high for most of the groups mentioned above.

Kitchen knives and returns

Still, anyone can just go home, grab a kitchen knife, and return to the place of anger and hatred to deal with others in the only way they see fit at that moment in their lives.

This “just grab a kitchen knife” point is also relevant in relation to the recent rise in global terrorism with edged weapons. Due to the tight gun control in Europe and other countries and the extremely little planning required to carry out a knife attack, whether against an individual or a massed group, knives have recently become the weapon of choice for many so-called “lone fighters”.

Knives are commonly available

Knives are basically available everywhere, and that will not change regardless of any laws. We just can’t stop people from walking into the kitchen or the local hardware store, grabbing a knife (or screwdriver) and stabbing other people indiscriminately. If someone intends to harm others with a knife or edged weapon, intelligence and law enforcement agencies will always fight to prevent such an atrocity.

Knives are also easier to hide. People’s need to conceal their gun stems from the fact that in many countries it is a crime to carry an offensive weapon and they want to avoid detection and arrest. Knives are easier to conceal than a firearm, so more criminals are switching from carrying guns to carrying knives. Of a very different nature is the desire of certain military or government officials to carry a concealed weapon, such as a knife.

The people selected the knife of a weapon

Another reason why more people preferred the knife to a gun when killing another human being was that they couldn’t get a gun. Getting a gun is quite difficult in most countries and even if you live in a country where guns are available, if you have a criminal record the likelihood of buying a firearm is close to zero or certainly “risky”. .

The last reason I’d like to mention why I think knives are being used more and more is the fact that knives don’t require training. Buying a gun is one thing, using a firearm effectively and hitting the target from a reasonable distance to avoid identification and arrest is another.

A knife is easy to use and it almost doesn’t matter where you stab this body, it will hurt a lot and probably kill that person. Having studied countless edged weapon attacks and understanding this topic very well, I know that some attackers got completely “lost” during the attack and, in total rage, stabbed the victim more than a hundred times in an extremely short period of time. Two of the last so-called “feral” knife attacks in the UK took place in September 2016 when Jamiv Usman attacked his 19-year-old young girlfriend and stabbed her more than a hundred times. In 2017, a 72-year-old man was stabbed in the back nearly a hundred times and subsequently died.

The speed of a piercing attack can be really shocking. Most readers would not believe the potential “speed of movement” in such a vicious attack, and it is this “speed of movement” that makes the subject of “knife defense ” so complex.

How do you defend yourself against a knife?

I don’t want to turn this article into a “self-defense” article , but when it comes to knife defense , all true experts will agree, it’s something that’s nearly impossible and requires incredible skill, training, and a lot of confidence.

Not many who have been involved in a knife fight have not been cut and injured at all…you have to accept that. The key is surviving such an attack, not staying injury free.

How do we do that?

  • RUN AWAY – if you can…run…run as fast as you can!
  • FILL THE SPACE – The good thing about a knife is that you cannot be killed by such a weapon at a certain distance. So think very carefully about what you do to keep “that distance”. Anything you can do to prevent the attacker from closing this gap is positive. It will certainly give you time, possibly enough time, for others to help you. Your ability to secure this gap will most likely have a fundamental impact on your chances of survival. Consider throwing things at the attacker (during a full-scale attack in a city center… scorching hot water from any cafe/bar/restaurant can be an extremely powerful weapon at that moment). The recent stabbing incident in Melbourne has shown that even a shopping trolley can be used to “protect that gap”.
  • PROTECT YOUR VITAL ORGANS AND ARTERIES – No question, stab resistant vests and cut resistant clothing would be of great benefit, but the reality is that when such incidents occur, you may not have this equipment available and you may have to deal with the situation as it is.
  • DO EVERYTHING NECESSARY TO STOP THE ATTACK – I will not go into the subject of self defense here as I firmly believe that in just a few sentences it would be extremely irresponsible. But whatever you do, grabbing the person’s knife shouldn’t be your primary goal, and trying to disarm the person wouldn’t be my first choice either . You must pay attention to his current “ability” to use that knife, and your only goal must be to turn that “ability” into “inability”… whatever it takes!

Robert Kaiser is CEO of the PPSS Group and a globally recognized and respected expert in the design, development and manufacture of high performance protective equipment/garments that provide protection against edged weapons.

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