British authorities are pioneering a “violence prevention” program that involves swapping out sharp knives for dull knives in order to prevent domestic violence and abuse-related stabbings.
Victims who have been threatened at knife-point will receive a special gift of “no point knives” to keep in their home from Nottinghamshire Police, who say the pilot anti-knife program is designed cut down on knife-related violence, according to the Independent.
“We do see a fair amount of knife-related incidents in domestic abuse, not just on the streets,” a Nottinghamshire Police supervisor told reporters about the pilot program. “This is a measure we need to take. We want to reduce that risk. It is a trial. We have about 100 of them – and we have so far given out about 50. The knife is blunt at the end – but still functions as a knife – so you can’t stab someone.”
The police say the effort is designed to help people who stay in abusive situations avoid becoming victims of violence: “People will stay in a relationship after some serious episodes of domestic abuse. They may stay together for children, get back together, or might get back together when they are out of prison.”
There’s one major flaw in Nottinghamshire’s logic, though: by removing knives from any home where domestic violence has occurred, they’re not just removing potential weapons, but a method of protection. Fortunately, the program is by agreement only, and domestic violence victims can select whether they’ll turn in their sharp knives for dull ones.
Victims rights organizations didn’t mince words when commenting on the planned program. The founder of London-based Victim Focus, which advocates for domestic violence victims, called the brains behind the operation, “morons,” according to Sky News.
“I feel like we are getting dumber and dumber around domestic violence,” she said on Twitter. “So you gonna leave her in the situation but nip round to provide the offender with some blunt knives?…IN DV [domestic violence], ANYTHING IS A WEAPON, YOU MORONS.”
She also suggested that if a victim is at a high enough visible risk that police feel obligated to replace her cooking utensils, law enforcement may want to consider counseling the victim into a more suitable solution, arrest the offender, or refer the victim to a group designed to help manage violent and abusive situations.
The police, though, seem more concerned with ending what they believe is a “wave” of knife violence — a wave that is taking over the United Kingdom, where guns and other weapons are banned. Nottinghamshire, for example, had more than 900 incidents of knife-related violence just last year, 150 of which were related to domestic abuse cases. Across Britain, the numbers are similar. Knife crime is on the rise.
Nottinghamshire is hardly the only agency to try dulling citizens’ knives in the name of safety. Last year, a judge in the U.K. called for all knives over 8 inches to be blunted, the Independent reports, arguing that no one outside of professional chefs and butchers truly need large, sharp knives unless they’re planning to harm another person.
“I would urge all those with any role in relation to knives – manufacturers, shops, the police, local authorities, the government – to consider preventing the sale of long pointed knives, except in rare, defined, circumstances, and replacing such knives with rounded ends,” the judge said in a ruling. “It might even be that the police could organise a programme whereby the owners of kitchen knives, which have been properly and lawfully bought for culinary purposes, could be taken somewhere to be modified, with the points being ground down into rounded ends.”
Law enforcement seems to be taking these steps because they’re at a loss over what else to do. In London, especially, knife crime is out of control. According to a report issued by the conservative party late last month, since London Mayor Sadiq Khan took office, knife crime has risen in the city more than 50%. The murder rate in London, the report says, has now overtaken that of New York City for the first time in nearly two centuries, even though most weapons — including all kinds of guns — are prohibited.