Absent fathers are fuelling knife crime in Britain, warns police chief

Knife crime is being driven by absent fathers, according to Britain’s top officer on violence.

Jackie Sebire said it was easy to blame drugs, funding cuts or social media for the epidemic in knife crime.

But she insisted that one of the biggest drivers of serious violence was the lack of a father figure at home.

Jackie Sebire said it was easy to blame drugs, funding cuts or social media for the epidemic in knife crime. But she insisted that one of the biggest drivers of serious violence was the lack of a father figure at home. She is pictured above on 24 Hours In Police Custody

Jackie Sebire said it was easy to blame drugs, funding cuts or social media for the epidemic in knife crime. But she insisted that one of the biggest drivers of serious violence was the lack of a father figure at home. She is pictured above on 24 Hours In Police Custody

‘It’s not only about public services, it’s absent fathers, absent capable guardians in the community, it’s lack of role models,’ said the Assistant Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police.

‘I don’t think we talk enough about those drivers around serious violence because it is easier to talk about drugs and social media. They do play a part, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not as simple as that.

‘I’m not just saying fathers but it’s male role models in the community, and where you do have positive male role models, they are potentially the drug dealers, or the exploiters, or the organised criminal networks, they become the positive male role model,’ she added.

‘We talk about the stereotype absent father whether they’re physically absent – or too busy working every hour God sends.

Knife crime rose 7 per cent last year to a record 45,000 offences. A study by the Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield found that up to 27,000 children identified as being gang members and over 300,000 know one

Knife crime rose 7 per cent last year to a record 45,000 offences. A study by the Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield found that up to 27,000 children identified as being gang members and over 300,000 know one

‘And actually children in those more affluent areas are left to their own devices as well. Fathers can be physically present but absent in the child’s life.’

Dr Sebire was speaking yesterday at the National Police Chiefs’ Council and Association of Police and Crime Commissioners summit this week. She is the lead on serious violence for the NPCC.

She said: ‘Positive male role models are a protective factor – we are understanding the importance of that positive male role model in young people’s lives.’

Dr Sebire said some parents even failed to collect their children at police stations.

‘The worst thing is when mum and dad won’t come, or actually they’re too busy to come,’ she said.

‘That’s the saddest thing that I see when they have no care – whether it’s mum or dad, and we have to get the appropriate adult services because they can’t be bothered.’

The former Scotland Yard officer has led a number of high-profile cases including the ‘spy in the bag’ inquiry into the death of MI6 codebreaker Gareth Williams, and the investigation into Britain’s youngest hitman, Santre Sanchez Gayle, who killed a woman at the age of 15 for £200.

Dr Sebire said that violence had become ‘normalised’ for many teenagers who do not fear going to prison.

‘They see there are no consequences to that. They don’t care if they are going to be sentenced. What they care about is that moment,’ she said.

‘There is this normalisation of violence as part of youth culture. A lot of the violence is incredibly spontaneous. And so there is no consequence to these children’s, these young people’s actions.

Dr Sebire said that violence had become ‘normalised’ for many teenagers who do not fear going to prison. ‘They see there are no consequences to that. They don’t care if they are going to be sentenced. What they care about is that moment,’ she said

Dr Sebire said that violence had become ‘normalised’ for many teenagers who do not fear going to prison. ‘They see there are no consequences to that. They don’t care if they are going to be sentenced. What they care about is that moment,’ she said

‘It doesn’t guide their actions because they don’t worry about what’s going to happen to them.

‘A knife allows them to conduct their criminal activity, whether they’re being exploited or whether that’s what they choose to do.’

Dr Sebire believes girls are now taking ‘more powerful positions in gangs in their own right’. Even children who are not in gangs carry knives for their own protection, she said.

‘Lots of forces have done surveys around this real perceived fear of violence in the street and it is actually true because we are recovering more knives,’ she added. 

‘We’re finding more knives, it becomes an unintended consequence – because you find more knives therefore more people think that I need to carry a knife.

‘Some of these kids are from very affluent areas. They’re not part necessarily of that urban street gang but they fear there is violence therefore they feel they have to carry a knife and therefore they’re more likely to use it.’

Knife crime rose 7 per cent last year to a record 45,000 offences.

A study by the Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield found that up to 27,000 children identified as being gang members and over 300,000 know one.

Last year a study of 60 vulnerable teenagers in South London found that nearly three quarters were not living with their fathers.

Four in ten of the youngsters witnessed domestic abuse. 

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