U.K. crackdown on youth knife crime: Could tactics work in Winnipeg?

If Winnipeg wants to crack down on knife crime, the city’s law enforcement may want to borrow some ideas from across the pond.

Machetes, in particular, seem to be the weapon of choice involved the commission of many local crimes — a problem a criminology prof in London says has reached “epidemic” proportions in the United Kingdom.

James Alexander of London Metropolitan University told 680 CJOB’s The Start that the U.K. has launched a national cracked down that limits who can buy these weapons and increases punishments for young people who are caught with them.

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“If a young person is caught with a knife twice — unless there are significant mitigating circumstances — you’re going into prison,” Alexander said.

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“Where things have really worked well is being tougher on young people that have been caught with carrying a knife. If they’re coming out of prison, the first offence that would be considered is a breach of their bail conditions — they’re going straight back in.”

On Wednesday, six people between the ages of 13 and 21 were arrested by Winnipeg police after machetes and throwing knives were stolen from Cabela’s on Sterling Lyon Parkway.

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The suspects were tracked down to the nearby Outlet Collection Winnipeg mall, and arrested without incident.

Alexander said while the harsher U.K. tactics have involved immediate action and tougher penalties, looking at the root causes of crime is equally important, especially given the age of many of the perpetrators on both sides of the Atlantic.

“What we also need to do is think about the long-term steps. … What can we do to stop future young people from getting involved in this?”

“That is taking a long-term approach around what can we do to support the children, taking a public health approach to preventing young people from getting into a situation where they think they should carry a knife.”

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Click to play video: 'Winnipeg police tackle spate of violent youth crime'

Winnipeg police tackle spate of violent youth crime

Alexander said there have been a number of underlying causes linked to the kind of knife violence seen in the U.K., including poverty, deprivation, adverse childhood experiences, and trauma.

The conversation comes on the heels of statements last week from Winnipeg police chief Danny Smyth about a spate of youth crime, including a number of incidents involving machetes and other knives.

Click to play video: 'Teenage machete attack at Polo Park ‘alarming’, Winnipeg police say'

Teenage machete attack at Polo Park ‘alarming’, Winnipeg police say

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