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“Has the time come to do something?”

Ah, the eternal question. Retired circuit judge Nic Madge has taken to the august pages of the Times to ask it anew in a way fitting to this age.

Time to regulate the murder weapons in your kitchen drawer

Barely a day passes without news of another fatal stabbing or knife attack causing serious injury. For instance, in the past month in Wolverhampton 15-year-old Keelan Wilson died from multiple stab wounds. In Northampton 17-year-old Louis-Ryan Menezes was stabbed to death in broad daylight in a crowded street. In separate incidents in Sheffield a 15-year-old, a 19-year-old and an older man were found dying from stab wounds.

And so on for a depressing few paragraphs. If anyone had not known that violent crime persists despite the laws against it, they have no excuse for not knowing it now. He continues,

Much has been done to combat knife crime. Possession in a public place of an article with a blade or sharp point without a good reason carries a prison sentence of up to four years. Possession of blades or pointed items on school premises is a separate offence. Anyone convicted of a second knife offence faces a mandatory minimum custodial sentence.

Recently a new Sentencing Council guideline with tougher sentences for knife crime came into force. It is illegal to sell knives, axes or swords to anyone aged under 18. The police are taking steps to prevent internet sales to young people. In Bedfordshire many shops put such knives on shelves out of reach of customers. The police have made metal detecting arches available for schools. The police, youth offending service, schools and others are doing excellent educational and awareness work about the dangers of knife crime. The Metropolitan Police are piloting a deferred prosecution scheme for less serious offences.

So, how is this migthy wave of banning and sentencing and “excellent awareness work”-ing working in the other sense?

Yet these measures have almost no effect on the availability of knives to youths.

Oh.

A few of the blades carried are “Rambo” knives, “zombie” knives or samurai swords. These, though, are a minority. The vast majority are ordinary kitchen knives that are potential murder weapons. It is easy for any youth who wants a knife to take it from any kitchen drawer.

Why, though, do we need 8in or 10in kitchen knives with points? Butchers and fishmongers do, but how often does a domestic chef use the point of a knife that size? Yes, we need short knives with points to fillet fish or pierce meat, but they are less likely to be lethal. Any blade can cause an injury, but slash wounds from them are rarely fatal: the points of long knives cause life-threatening and fatal injuries.

Manufacturers, shops, the police, local authorities and the government should consider further regulating the sale of long, pointed knives. At the very least shops should sell alternatives with rounded ends. There have always been stabbings and always will be. The carrying and ready use of large, pointed knives has led to the increase in death and serious injury. Punches, kicks and attacks with blunt objects injure, but the results are less likely to be severe or fatal.

Young lives are needlessly being cut short. Those who survive knife attacks carry physical and psychological scars. The lives of families, communities, and not forgetting the young offenders who receive lengthy sentences on conviction, are blighted by the ready availability of such knives. Has the time come to do something?

Time for you to step back from the computer and have a relaxing hot bath to cure this fit of the vapours, m’lud.

Or maybe not. As a highly recommended Times comment by someone called “Erasure” puts it,

Next week: The Times makes a case for removing baths from homes;

“You just can’t be too careful, said an HSE spokeshuman….Baths are filled with water and if you have children in your home under the age of 4 then I’m afraid the danger is too great and the bath must go………….either that or the Council will remove your children from the appalling danger. I think that is a sensible and proportionate sanction and something that I am sure all sensible, well-educated and right-on families living in Islington are in agreement about”

30 comments to “Has the time come to do something?”

  • NickM

    I am not a chef or whatever. I do though have a cleaver that I bought in Chinatown, Manchester. It is awesome. It is heavy, sharp and lethal and that is just with carrots.

    Do I need it? Strictly speaking, “no”. Is it useful? Oh, yeah! It is a very handy (and versatile) tool for food prep. It has largely replaced my big chef’s knife. It has made many meals. It hasn’t killed or maimed anyone. In fact I’d be really annoyed if my prized kitchen accessory wound-up in a HM evidence bag. In fact I might be so annoyed I’d take my hammer to someone. This is the er… point. Is it not? We are tool using mammals. The cleaver is almost cheating. You can kill someone with something in your sight right now. Yeah, and that in a country with a right to bear arms.

  • I stand appalled at the folly of such trifling remedies as would still allow the sale of knives with rounded ends. Has m’lud never heard the phrase “blunt instrument”? Has he never played Cluedo? Does he not know that the Reverend Green did it in the conservatory with the rope while Miss Scarlett did it in the ballroom with the candlestick? Such pathetically incomplete prohibitions can only mean that m’lud has failed completely to plumb the depths of the issue.

    The first six words of this comment are sincerely meant.

  • Gene

    I’m tempted to ask what our esteemed jurist will suggest after all the sharp thingies have been legislated away, forcing murderers to turn to that old standby–heavy blunt objects. I await his proposals for keeping rocks out of the hands of criminals. Clearly he has not managed to keep them out of his head.

  • bobby b

    Are y’all sure it’s still legal to be discussing this topic on a UK website?

  • Sam Duncan

    “If anyone had not known that violent crime persists despite the laws against it, they have no excuse for not knowing it now.”

    Precisely. So what makes Mr. Madge think that more laws will make any difference?

    I remember thinking along the same lines during the panic after Dunblane. Everything the perpetrator, Hamilton, did then was already illegal. Yes, some of the guns in his posession were legal, but he was holding them illegally. Under the psychiatric background checks then in place, he shouldn’t have had a licence at all. It was a failure to enforce the laws already in place that resulted in that tragedy, not a lack of laws.

    Ah, but maybe if we make them extra-super-double-illegal…

    It didn’t help the guy who was shot just a few minutes’ walk from my front door a few weeks ago. (Yes, really.)

  • Mr Ecks

    The moron Beak mouthed this shite in his retirement speech.

    Now he is back peddling his cockrot in the Times. Anybody smell an agenda being tried out?

    Never mind–I’m sure the absence of knives being sold in Leicester jail will ensure Tommy Robinson’s safety.

    This beak’s bullshit needs to be publicly fisked good and hard.

    Time to regulate stupid arrogant beaks who shill for the scummy and tyrannical state.

  • Mr Ecks

    Hell, having thought on there IS a plan–EU based if I recall correctly–to restrict knives to those of only four inches long. I can’t trace the link but I am certain I remember just such a plan ten years ago or so. Perhaps someone better at Inet searching can find the corrupt crap.

    Meantime–just to upset the beak–here is a counter to the idea small knives are oh-so-safe.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MpVfNGWK3ko

  • bob sykes

    Your courts have never progressed beyond George III’s Star Chamber, and evidently they never will. Our Bill of Rights was aimed at Congress, whom every sane person distrusted. You need a Bill of Rights aimed at your courts, one that will rein in your utterly appalling judges.

  • Sigivald

    The points of knives are also actually useful/necessary for large amounts of kitchen work, which is why a chef’s knife has a point.

    (I told my fiancee, a chef, about this proposition, and she was livid on principle, because the point on a chef’s knife is part of how you use it.)

    And, naturally, someone willing to carry a knife for murderous purposes … might well be willing to spend a few minutes with a goddamn file “fixing” the lack of a point.

    Fools. Fools and knaves.

  • Is it possible that Judge Nic is unaware of how easily a round-ended knife can be made into a pointed one with the application of a small amount of elbow grease and any available stone or sidewalk?

    Does he believe steel to be an immutable substance once it has reached its knife form? Very odd.

    I myself use the point of my long knife to make deep small holes in a pot roast, so that I can stuff it with cloves and basil. I could do that with a piece of rebar, I guess, but it would not be nearly as tidy or easy.

    Do you not eat roast beef in England?

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Ferox writes,

    Do you not eat roast beef in England?

    86% of males called “Nic” are militant vegans.

  • FFS

    This really grinds my gears.

    I was robbed at knifepoint- well, not quite knifepoint, because the point of the knife had broken off. Matey said it had broken off inside someone,and I had no reason to disbelieve him. I can assure His Honour Judge Madge that the prospect of the jagged end heading for my eyes was every bit as scary as it would have been with a point.

    But that’s not the worst of it. Oh no. What hurts, far worse than the robbery, is the knowledge that society- or, at any rate, the Ministry of Justice- is not on my side.

    There’s DNA showing that this guy grabbed my shirt, and CCTV showing he used my card. The Sentencing Guidelines, applied to the things he did and the harm done to me, indicate a custodial sentence of 2-4 years.

    He’s never been arrested, so they don’t have a name to fit to the DNA. But if he carries on like that, one day he’ll be arrested for something, and then BINGO!

    But my Victim Support adviser tells me there is no way he’s ever going to jail.

    The CPS will likely decline to prosecute. “The DNA proves he touched your shirt, and the CCTV proves he used your card. The people who heard you shouting for help can say you were shouting that you were being robbed, but who can prove you weren’t lying? As for the card, what if he says you gave it to him? As for the DNA, what if he says you grabbed his hand and put it on your t-shirt? It’s your word against his for all of that, you know.”

    The CPS, as far as I can tell, works to one target: percentage of prosecutions resulting in a conviction. So if there’s any chance of an acquittal- like if they think the offender might lie- it’s easier for them to drop it.

    And if they DID prosecute, and he pleaded guilty or was convicted: no way would he go to jail. The Sentencing Guidelines point clearly to 2-4 years, but they are, as Bystander used to say, “Guidelines, not tramlines”. A judge can depart from them if he wants to. And my Victim Support guy, who has experience of how it really works, rather than documented processes, says this robber would end up with a community order.

    I work hard, I pay my taxes, I do no­body harm, I say none harm, I think none harm, but wish everybody good. When I ended up alone, in gathering darkness, with a stranger brandishing a knife at me and saying “I will fuck you up”, I thought the police, the CPS, and the courts were there to protect me.

    The police were good.

    But the CPS and the Courts will bend over backwards to take the side of the scrote.

  • Patrick Crozier

    In the days when guns were legal in the UK the murder rate was a lot lower than it is now.

  • Phil B

    The length of the blade is a red herring. The reason is anatomy and the elasticity of skin. Try this simple experiment. Get a knife, any knife will do and measure the blade. Now, get a piece of stick, broom shank or similar and hold it like you were going to stab someone. Press the stick into a volunteers stomach as though you were punching them as hard as possible. Now measure the “penetration” of the stick and add it to the blade length. The blade does not stop penetrating when the front of the handle reaches the skin.

    It is comparatively easy to achieve a through-and-through penetration of a human body with a 3 inch blade if the thrust is done hard enough and if the person is not drastically overweight. It is cutting of the internal organs and the subsequent blood loss that kills people and it is the TOTAL depth of penetration which is significant. And as this experiment will demonstrate, the penetration is much deeper than the blade length. Note also that done in slow time, the volunteer will involuntarily tense up and their muscles will automatically resist the force of the push. A knife punched at full force and full speed in a fight will penetrate deeply indeed.

    Just in case people become mortified by my apparent knowledge of this subject, I live in New Zealand where wild pig hunting is done with packs of dogs and the pig killed with a knife thrust. I have watched such a hunt and examined the effects of such a knife thrust and I promise you that the above description is valid.

  • Eric

    How could you be a judge and not realize guys in prison sharpen up perfectly serviceable stabbing knives from pretty much any random piece of metal in twenty minutes or so? The only people inconvenienced by a law against sharp kitchen implements will be people actually trying to cook.

  • JC

    Not just chefs, either.
    We poor bastards in the building trades need sharp pointy things too! You ever seen a keyhole saw? Wicked looking sonofabitch, but I have multiples for carpentry and drywall. Don’t ask about my duct knife, my pocket folder, my Mora carpenter’s knife…
    Oooh! And my roofer’s hatchet, and my drywall hatchet (they are different tools), and the E-tool in the trunk which I use regularly to help dig cars out of holes, and
    , and, and…

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    Bob, Britain already HAS a Bill of Rights! And something called Magna Carta! And the Kings and Queens have been losing powers ever since. So there!

  • Eric

    In the days when guns were legal in the UK the murder rate was a lot lower than it is now.

    I read a comment from an ER doc once who said you’d rather be shot than stabbed. Of course, I’ll leave the field research to others.

  • Pat

    @PC, when guns were legal so we’re drugs- so no illegal drugs gangs.
    Also the country was more homogeneous.
    BTW the star chamber was abolished near two centuries before George 3.

  • jim jones

    I suggest that people go and sit in a Magistrates Court or High Court for a day, you will see that no one ever gets punished. The typical sentence is thirty days suspended.

  • Ferox writes,

    Do you not eat roast beef in England?

    86% of males called “Nic” are militant vegans. (Natalie Solent (Essex), June 14, 2018 at 8:17 pm)

    Did you say militant vegans? Sounds sinister! And would these vegans be well practiced in using knives on innocent unoffending kale and almonds as they make their nut cutlets while fantasising about imposing their views upon us! Suddenly another side to this argument is revealed to me!

    (The first 7 words of this comment are sincerely meant.)

  • But my Victim Support adviser tells me there is no way he’s ever going to jail. (FFS, June 14, 2018 at 9:14 pm)

    Tells you with PC approval, with weary resignation, with shared anger, tells you as part of ‘helping you through the earlier psychological stages of loss towards acceptance and moving on’ – or tells you because if the poor benighted robber (made that way by the crimes of society through no fault of his own) were ever to be put on trial then the adviser would start seeing him as your victim?

    (I am genuinely interested in the mental evolution of those who work – and choose to go on working – in such a degenerating system, so would be interested in your impression of their mentality, if you wished to share it here. This unusual article by a not-quite-so-naive-as-he-was US public defender – working, be it noted, in a system where your assailant probably would be convicted if caught – shows one evolution.)

  • How could you be a judge and not realize guys in prison sharpen up perfectly serviceable stabbing knives from pretty much any random piece of metal in twenty minutes or so (Eric, June 15, 2018 at 12:06 am)

    A good way to become a magistrate in the UK is to be a member of the Labour party. I was told that long ago by a family friend who had followed exactly that route. I assumed when I was told this that a quid-pro-quo meant that being a member of the Tory party was also a good way to become a magistrate. (Readers at this point think, “That may not always act to a counter-balance things these days!” 🙂 ) Men and woman like this were certainly on the bench as long ago as the 1950s, if not earlier – they are occasionally mentioned by astonished spectators in essays, etc.

  • bobby b

    “This unusual article by a not-quite-so-naive-as-he-was US public defender – working, be it noted, in a system where your assailant probably would be convicted if caught – shows one evolution.”

    My experience taking on contract-PD cases essentially mirrors the author’s, with the exception that I didn’t start out as a progressive.

    I have my own theories about the group dynamics he describes, but this is Perry’s blog and he has expressed a quite reasonable preference that we not get into all of that mess, so I don’t.

    “Tells you with PC approval, with weary resignation, with shared anger . . . or . . . “

    We call them Victim Advocates over here, and, no matter how they start their careers, it’s never long before they’re telling their assigned vics the truth, with weary resignation. Nobody gets out of this system with any basic progressive naivete remaining.

    VA’s generally enter into the field to help – they just find, with time, that “help” means something different than they had thought. They thought they’d be helping victims navigate the system and ensure that their efforts wouldn’t be wasted. They eventually learn that their value lies in steeling vics for disappointment and disillusion, and encouraging them to seek counseling.

  • FFS

    “Tells you with PC approval, with weary resignation, with shared anger, tells you as part of ‘helping you through the earlier psychological stages of loss towards acceptance and moving on’ – or tells you because if the poor benighted robber (made that way by the crimes of society through no fault of his own) were ever to be put on trial then the adviser would start seeing him as your victim?”

    I regard my Victim Support advisor as one of the good guys. He’s telling it how it is. I don’t think he likes it.

    “(I am genuinely interested in the mental evolution of those who work – and choose to go on working – in such a degenerating system, so would be interested in your impression of their mentality, if you wished to share it here. This unusual article by a not-quite-so-naive-as-he-was US public defender – working, be it noted, in a system where your assailant probably would be convicted if caught – shows one evolution.)”

    My attacker and I are different ethnicities, but neither of us are of the ethnicity discussed in that article, so I’d prefer to leave that to one side.

    The mental evolution of people in the system… I think the best way to sum it up is that people get ground down.

    “They eventually learn that their value lies in steeling vics for disappointment and disillusion, and encouraging them to seek counseling.”

    Exactly what my advisor ended up doing.

    For perspective: my robbery was about a year ago, and since then I haven’t got though a waking hour without thinking about it.

    My advisor said I should seek counselling. He also added that as far as the NHS is concerned I’m on my own, and would need to pay privately.

  • Surellin

    Given a piece of conduit pipe and a hacksaw, I could improvise a stiletto in two minutes. Oh, I see, conduit pipe and hacksaws will have to go, as well.

  • Ian Bennett

    guys in prison sharpen up perfectly serviceable stabbing knives from pretty much any random piece of metal in twenty minutes or so

    Or from a plastic toothbrush, sharpened against a brick wall.

  • JohnK

    I am glad this slow thinking moron went into the law rather than medicine. If he had become a doctor he would have wasted a lot of time, and lost a lot of patients, by treating the symptoms of a disease, rather than the cause.

    It is nonetheless depressing that a man with so little insight, and complete failure to grasp reality, should have risen to be a judge, of all things. If he is indicative of the talent on the English bench, the vicious jailing of Tommy Robinson begins to make sense.

  • Pat

    I think this is a man with a hammer viewing everything as a nail. He knows the Law and little else. So he supposes Law is the answer.
    On balance I don’t want judges with inventive minds, I want judges that rigorously apply the law as written. But I would much prefer they confined their comments to the Law as it is.

  • Lee Moore

    The good news is that he has retired. The bad news is that there are plenty of even dafter ones that haven’t.

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