Another weekend, so it is time for more "climate of fear" spin and media hype. Is the Home Secretary trying to divert media attention away from his private affairs and visa scandals, by spinning a new "policy" designed to capitalise on recent murders involving knives ?
Or perhaps, David Blunkett does not really plan to crack down the the actual availability of knives "on the street", but is looking to spin another "we must be seen to be doing something" story about the "climate of fear" regarding knives.
Are we being too cynical ?
The following are virtually word for word identical reports from our allegedly professional and independent major and minor news media:
- Daily Mail "Move to ban under-18s buying knives", 21:50pm 11th December 2004
"Move to ban under-18s buying knives", Dec 11 2004
- BBC Online
"Knife fears could prompt new law",Last Updated: Sunday, 12 December, 2004, 01:17 GMT
- Daily Telegraph
"Under-18s to be banned from buying knives",
- The Sunday Times
"Knife sales to be banned for under-18s"
Andrew Porter, Deputy Political Editor, December 12, 2004
"Plans to raise age for buying a knife", Sun Dec 12, 2004 12:33 PM GMT
"Ministers consider under-18 knife ban",12/12/2004
repeated word for word with the same photo at
"Ministers consider under-18 knife ban", Sunday, 12 Dec 2004 13:33
Obviously all these "stories" are all based on one press release or media briefing.
Why did none of these supposedly professional journalists or their editorial newws teams bother to ask any questions ?
They literally just parrotted the "report" word for word.
How many of the "272 murders involving sharp objects" out of 1,003 in the year 2003 involved knives recently bought by 16 or 17 year olds ?
Of those 272 murders, how many would have been prevented by any kind of extended ban on the sales of new knives ?
N.B. none of these online newspaper or tv media or political news reports bothered to provide a URL to the relevant "Knife Crime" Answers to Parliamentary Questions on 3rd November 2004, from which they quote Home Office Minister Hazel Blears, and failed to quote her colleague Caroline Flint.
Why has there suddenly been a change in policy from the Home Office since the 3rd of November, when they were answering that the exiting laws were comprehensive and adequate ?
How many "old" knives are there, to the nearest million, "on the streets" ?
Sales of knives are already banned to under 16 year olds.
There are already plenty of laws about carrying "offensive weapons" of any sort, which are applicable to any people, of any age. Why do we need any more laws ?
How will this new law be enforced any more rigourously than the existing laws ? By whom ? How much will this extra ban cost ?
"Mr Blunkett said he would do everything in his power to get knives off Britain's streets.
He will unveil his plans at talks with police chiefs on Wednesday."
So why are we getting spin on the Saturday and Sunday beforehand ?
"The Home Secretary will use the meeting to announce plans to hold consultations over the change. But senior Home Office sources said he was almost certain to push ahead with it.
Mr Blunkett said: "We must do everything we can to get knives off the streets, including toughening the law.
"I think that there is a very strong argument for having to be 18 to buy a knife, just as with alcohol and fireworks. Education Secretary Charles Clarke and I are working together closely to tackle the dual menace of young people carrying knives in our schools and on our streets."
Does that mean that, since David Blunkett and Sir John Stevens, of themetropolitan Police are talking of treating knives as severely as firearms, there is going to be a ban on private individuals possessing knives ? Or is there going to be a licensing scheme for professional knife users e.g. chefs, housewives etc. who use them for food preparation ?
How many knives are there in the "on the streets" in the UK ?
How expensive would such a ban or licensing scheme be ?
Why is the Firearms Licence database for shotguns etc. such an IT disaster ?
If this is a major legal initiative, then why is it not being announced to Parliament first, and then reported by the press and media, rather than the other way around ?