London’s schools are being urged by police to install metal detectors at their gates to help combat knife crime, as the number of under-25-year-olds stabbed to death in the capital this year reaches 17.
Attacks with bladed weapons rose by 24 per cent in London last year, but the Metropolitan Police hope to reverse that trend through a series of measures, including the introduction of “knife arches” at more schools. Other measures include a return to stop and search, and a squad of 80 officers tasked with bringing together officers, schools, and the community.
“There is a growing body of headteachers that think [the arches are] probably a good idea,” DCS Michael Gallagher, a leader on the Met’s anti-knife initiative Operation Sceptre, told the paper.
“What we are seeing a lot of is attacks at the school gates,” he said, adding that the “stigma” attached to having a knife arch was outweighed by the benefits.
Danny Coyle, head of Newman college in Brent, north-west London, lent his support to the idea, saying: “We conduct frequent ‘safety arches’ which are well received by pupils, teachers and parents alike.
“These are conducted in an atmosphere of good humour and have the additional benefit of developing positive relationships with the police and young people.”
But the initiative hasn’t been uniformly welcomed. Leroy Logan, a former leader of the Black Police Association and former Scotland Yard superintendent who now works on an anti-gang initiative, dismissed the idea as a gimmick.
“How many stabbings are there in schools? Not that many. All they do is stash the weapons outside. You need the intelligence to find the weapons. Knife arches displace the problem – they are cosmetic,” he said.
Last year, 49 of London’s 105 homicides within the 25 or under age group were stabbings, while the death of a 23-year-old man in Enfield on Tuesday brought this year’s total to 17.
Six people were stabbed to death in the last week of April alone. Police are concerned that the deaths may herald a spike in knife crime, which has been noted in previous years between the two May bank holidays.
“The days get longer and the weather gets a bit more clement. Victim and offender groups are out on the streets a bit more,” he said.