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 2. 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 stop and search. *figs shown correct as of 06.07.2010
  • In 2009, a total of 438 firearms capable of lethal discharge 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.

Either you could seriously injure someone, or someone could use your weapon to seriously injure you. So whether you intended to use it or not, you could end up in a lot of trouble and the consequences may be fatal.

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 get stabbed yourself.
  • Imitation guns, including ball bearing ones, 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.
  • Situations involving weapons can quickly get out of control.
  • Even if the gun that you or someone you know is carrying isn't real, other people including the police won't necessarily know that. It could increase the risk of you being attacked, threatened or even worse.
  • Police have the power to stop and search you if they believe you are carrying a weapon. Lots of places now make use of screening technology that can detect if you are carrying a weapon. If you are found to be carrying a knife or gun you will be arrested and prosecuted. Find out more about ‘stop and search’ in our section about 'your rights'.

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.
  • An injury might look small, but any internal damage can kill.

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.