How do white and ethnic minority views and experiences of knife crime differ?

Beth MannSenior Research Executive
May 30, 2023, 10:33 AM GMT+0

Ethnic minority Britons are more likely to be worried about knife crime and to know victims personally

Knife crime has risen over the last decade, with 2021-22 data showing a 9% increase in recorded offences since 2020-21, and a 34% increase on 2010-11. This type of crime is particularly high amongst young offenders (aged 10-17), who made up 18% of recorded offences or convictions in the latest figures.

Previous YouGov research has highlighted the impact knife crime has on ethnic minority communities in particular. Now, new research looks at the issue two years on and explores what people think should be done.

In total, one in five (19%) Britons from an ethnic minority background say they know someone personally who has been a victim of knife crime, including 5% who say they themselves were the victim. This figure remains higher than amongst white Britons, of whom 12% say they know someone personally and just 2% say they have been a victim themselves.

Knife crime affects young ethnic minority Britons in particular, with the number knowing a victim rising to over one in four (28%) of those aged 18-24. This is double the number of white Britons of the same age (15%).

Regardless of ethnic background, the number reduces dramatically with age, to only 8% of those aged 65 and older from an ethnic minority background and 7% of older white Britons. Amongst ethnic minorities, men are slightly more likely than women to have been or personally know a victim (22% vs 17% overall), with the difference largely driven by them being more like to have been the victim themselves (7% vs 3%).

Back in 2021 we found that worry about victimhood of knife crime was high amongst British ethnic minority communities, and this fear continues today. Over half (55%) are worried about someone they care about becoming a victim, including 23% who are ‘very’ worried about this happening. Those middle aged (50-64 year olds) are most worried about this, with 60% saying so.

Not only are ethnic minority Britons worried about a loved one becoming a victim of knife crime, but a significant portion are also worried about someone they care about becoming a perpetrator. One in four (23%) say they are worried about this, rising to one in three 18-24 year olds (33%).

White Britons are also fairly worried about someone they care about becoming a victim of knife crime, albeit to a lesser extent (47%, with 18% ‘very worried’). However, they are much less likely to be worried about a loved one becoming a perpetrator. Overall, only 13% are worried about this, and just 10% of younger white Britons are.

What would be effective at tackling knife crime?

In general, both white and ethnic minority Britons tend to agree on what measures they deem effective at tackling knife crime. Those judged to be most likely to be effective are educational programmes in schools and youth centres (63% among white Britons and 60% among ethnic minorities), longer prison sentences (69% and 58%) and increasing police officer and PCSO numbers (65% and 57%).

Stationing police officers at school gates is one of the most divisive solutions, with 42% saying it would be effective at reducing knife crime and 42% saying ineffective across both white and ethnic minority Britons. Knife amnesties and surrenders are also divisive, with 46% of white Britons saying they would be effective but 41% ineffective, with those figures 44% versus 36% amongst ethnic minority Britons.

Police having stop and search powers is significantly more likely to be deemed effective by white Britons than ethnic minority groups, by 62% to 48%.

More people support measures to tackle knife crime than think they will be effective

Amongst white Britons, at least three quarters (74%) support bringing in each policy, except for stationing police at school gates which sees support at 52%. Amongst ethnic minority Britons support is slightly lower, but nonetheless at least six in ten (59%) support each policy, except police being stationed at school gates, which again sits at 52%.

While support is always higher than perceived effectiveness, the two do generally correlate. Knife amnesties prove something of an exception, however, with support far outstripping belief that they would be effective – by 36pts in the case of white Britons and 20pts in the case of ethnic minority Britons.

See the results for all Britons here and for ethnic minority Britons here

Photo: Getty

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