Knife carrying amongst young people in Hampshire

Exploring the reasons young people carry knives and what can be done to reduce knife crime.

Key details

Lead institution
Principal researcher(s)
Bryony Woodhead
Police region
South East
Collaboration and partnership

Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire.

Level of research
Project start date
Date due for completion

Research context

From 2016/17 until 2019/20 there has been a rise in knife crime in England and Wales (ONS, 2021). Whilst there was a drop in 2020/21, this may have been due to lockdown measures of COVID-19.

In 2020/21, there was still a 27% rise compared to 2010/11 showing the growing trend of knife crime. There were also 221 police-recorded murders involving a knife/sharp instrument in the 12 months from March 2021 (Ben Kinsella Trust, 2021).

Research has shown that those aged 13 to 24 are most likely to be involved in knife crime (Bailey and others, 2020). There is little qualitative research into knife crime and the research that is out there is predominantly to do with victims of knife crime and how they feel as a consequence. An investigation into the reasonings behind knife crime on a local level (Hampshire) may lead to a review of prevention strategies that could ultimately be implemented nationally.

The main aim of this study is to investigate the reasoning behind knife carrying in Hampshire. The specific focus on Hampshire is due to the researcher undertaking a research placement with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.

This research will provide a unique insight into professionals who work with knife carriers and gain their understanding of why young people carry knives and what interventions can be put into place. The researcher also aims to speak with habitual knife carriers for a personal insight.

Findings from the study may be able to guide what types of interventions can be put in place on a local level to reduce the number of people carrying knives. Research will also look at the professionals' role and the support they provide.

Research methodology

The sample size for this research will be 4 to 8 participants. Qualitative evidence will be gathered through interviews.

Participants will be recruited through purposive sampling. Participants will have been working with young people who are knife carriers. They will be in different roles such as health workers, volunteers or charity workers.

Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) will be used as this allows for exploration of the participant’s thoughts, feelings, perceptions and views on knife crime and the existing support.

Research participation

The researcher would like to hear from any professional who has worked in Hampshire with young people who have/still do carry a knife. For example, teachers, health workers, volunteers at youth clubs and charities. 

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