Knife crime is not often associated with the leafy borough of Richmond-upon-Thames, yet one of the consequences of a 20% increase in knife crime offences in London in 2017-18 compared to the previous year is that knife crime is rapidly affecting everyone.
One of the Richmond borough residents who has more first-hand experiences of knife crime, and its effects,  than most is local criminal defence solicitor Julian Waskett of the Darton Law firm. Having been admitted as a solicitor in 1981, working as a prosecutor the first five years and after that as a public defence lawyer, Mr Waskett has plenty of  experience and knowledge in assessing the current state of crime in London. The fact even he admits it is  “just staggering the number of stabbings that we now see and the number of youths that one represents in the youth court who are caught by the police in possession of a knife” emphasises the dramatic increase in knife crime recently.
While many politicians, and Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dicks, have blamed this increase on drill music, Mr Waskett believes this is “nonsense”. Conversely he thinks “the music is incidental to the crime”. The difficulty in finding statistics or data mean that the effect of drill music on crime cannot be conclusively evaluated either way. In previous years heavy rock and rap music have similarly been demonised as catalysts for crime increases.  
Instead Mr Waskett believes most knife crime offenders problems lie at root in the fact that they “have no secure family home”. The lack of close role models to follow and the absence of a supportive structure means that these young men are likely to find comfort on the street in gangs. One young man he defended had “28 foster placements in no less than 3 years….in those circumstances it’s easy to see why that young man would find comfort in the society of a gang”. Youth centres, which could have filled this gap, have seen their funding slashed with many forced to close down.
Even in prison safety is not guaranteed as Mr Waskett confirmed “stabbing take place in custodial institutions and the instrument used will often be a dining room knife which has been fashioned into a sharp blade”. To prevent these incidents, in addition to those on the streets,there are specific anti-gang units. Mr Waskett highlights the importance of the “unit working inside Her Magistrates Young Offender Institute at Feltham which is there to ensure the Home Office that runs Feltham Young Offender Institute don't make the mistake of putting a gang member from say a Camden gang in the same wing as a Hackney gang member because the consequence would be pretty dire”. Hopefully this surge in knife crime offences will soon stop and decrease again, but it is important to talk to people like Mr Waskett who deal with the consequences of it regularly.