More than 50 people have been stabbed to death in Britain in 2019 so far, many more have been seriously injured. Just 6 weeks ago, the cousin of ITV weatherman Alex Beresford was killed in a knife attack. In a personal investigation for ITV Tonight, Alex reports from the front line of a national tragedy and searches for a solution to our knife crime problem.
As well as presenting the weather, Alex Beresford mentors young people in his spare time. In March 2019, he intervened in a Good Morning Britain discussion about knife crime and the video of it went viral.
“Some of these boys, they don’t fear prison. If you don’t change the environment, you won’t change anything.”
Just ten days later, Alex’s second cousin Nathaniel Armstrong was killed in London. In this programme Alex visits Bristol, London, the West Midlands and Glasgow in search of answers.
In the West Midlands Alex is introduced to ‘D’, who says he is 25 years old and heads a gang running drugs. He says most of the young people who work for him carry knives and describes the situation in Britain as “lawless”.
In both Bristol and London, Alex is told cuts to policing and youth services could be playing a part in a rise on knife crime. A report from 2017 estimated that 600 youth centres have been shut across the UK since 2010. In Camden, Alex meets young people who are fearful after a number of fatal stabbings in the area over the past 14 months.
“We cannot as local government endure this level of cuts...you know there are young people dying on our streets and we need more money.”
The government have recently announced that they are putting £200m into community projects to steer young people away from serious violence. Last week the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, promised an extra £100m to police forces to tackle the knife crime "epidemic" in England and Wales. Some of the funding will go towards new Violence Reduction Units and the adoption of a “public health approach” in preventing violent crime.
This approach, alongside tougher policing, has helped to halve the murder rate in Glasgow since 2005. Back then, the World Heath Organisation branded the city the murder capital of Europe. Alex visits the programmes that continue to carry out this inspirational work, helping to prevent young people from joining gangs and rehabilitating former offenders.
Watch ‘Knife Crime & Me - Tonight’ on ITV at 7.30pm.