Knife crime and gun crime

Get the facts

While the vast majority of young people stay within the law a small number do find themselves getting involved in knife and gun crime. Despite these numbers, the effects can reach a lot of different people. Want to know more? Get the facts here.

  • Carrying a knife or a gun is illegal in the UK and the courts will take firm action if you're found with either in your possession.
  • The Metropolitan Police Service has set up a dedicated taskforce to combat knife crime under Operation Blunt. Since its creation in July 2008, 4,509 people have been arrested, and 963 weapons have been removed from London's streets including 47 guns*. The large majority of these weapons were recovered through focused policing operations as well as stop and search. *figs shown correct as of 06.07.2010
  • In 2009, a total of 438 illegal firearms came into the hands of the Metropolitan Police Service from the streets of London. These were found by members of the public, surrendered at police stations or recovered by police operations.

While there is no excuse to carry a weapon, people say they carry a knife or gun for different reasons:

  • protection
  • self-defence
  • fear
  • peer pressure
  • to gain respect, power or control

Not all people who carry weapons intend to use them. But if you're carrying a weapon and get into an argument, the situation is more likely to get out of hand and you are more likely to use it, potentially injuring someone or it could be used against you with fatal consequences.

Many people who carry knives or guns don't realise what they're getting themselves into:

  • By carrying a knife, you are much more likely to increase your chances of being a victim of a knife attack.
  • Imitation firearms such as BB Guns are illegal and can seriously injure or scare people as much as a real gun. If caught you could still go to prison for carrying one in a public place.

Knife and gun crime can affect anyone, not just people in gangs:

  • Innocent bystanders can get caught in the middle of other people's disputes and suffer trauma, serious injuries or worse.
  • There is no ‘safe place’ to stab or shoot someone. A wound in the arm or the leg can still be life threatening. There have been cases where young people have died from wounds to the leg because their artery was severed. Both knives and guns have the potential to kill as well as injure

If someone is killed, the consequences are devastating for friends and relatives of both the victim and the person who is responsible for the murder. See some of the consequences of knife crime in the ‘Choose a different ending’ video.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of knife or gun crime, or maybe you're somehow involved in another way, there's plenty of support available. Visit our help and advice page.