On 7 July, the government announced that London’s Metropolitan Police will begin trialling new Knife Crime Prevention Orders (KCPOs). The pilot will last for 14 months. Thereafter, the Home Office will review the results before deciding whether to roll out KCPOs across England and Wales. The Home Office states that KCPOs are intended to “turn young people away from a life of crime and protect them from potential exploitation from criminal gangs”. But campaigners have raised concerns that rather than protecting them, the new orders will enable further surveillance and criminalisation of vulnerable young people who already experience over-policing.
What are Knife Crime Prevention Orders?
A KCPO is a civil order that gives police the power to impose restrictions on anyone they suspect may be carrying a knife, has a history of carrying one, or has been convicted of a knife-related offence. Targeted at young people, police can impose orders on children as young as 12 years old. Conditions can include social media bans and curfews. Orders can remain in place for a maximum of two years. Failure to comply with orders could result in criminal charges – along with a prison sentence. The maximum term could be two years.
According to the Home Office, courts can also authorise “positive intervention, such as educational courses, sports club referrals, relationship counselling, anger management, mentoring and drug rehabilitation”. However, grassroots organisation No More Exclusions has said that it does “not believe the Home Office’s claim that KCPOs will be ‘preventative rather than punitive’ or that they will help reduce serious youth violence”. Instead, the group argues that:
KCPOs will be yet another tool used by the State to pretend it can police its way out of multiple crises for which it is solely responsible.
Criminalising young people
In February 2019, 31 organisations wrote a joint letter urging lawmakers to scrap plans for Knife Crime Prevention Orders. Campaigners warned that the “flawed and disproportionate” civil order would push more children and young people into the criminal justice system. The letter stated:
Children and young people carry knives for complex reasons, including fear for their safety.
Effective prevention means dealing with that complexity, and investing in organisations and programmes rooted in the communities suffering the most.
KCPOs will serve as a distraction and as a tool for racial profiling for children as young as 12 many of whom are already at the margins.
The same children and young people are paying the highest price for years of state neglect, educational and social exclusion, austerity, racial capitalism and societal violence, not to mention the effects of a deliberately poorly managed and ongoing global pandemic.
Expanding the youth prison population
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?