Carrying on into 2019

We have recently completed a report into young people and carrying weapons:
http://sheu.org.uk/x/download/Carrying2019report.pdf

A summary article is to be published in Education and Health (March 2019):
http://sheu.org.uk/eh

Supplementary analysis is also available (see full report for context):
http://sheu.org.uk/x/download/Carrying2019extras.pdf

The executive summary and conclusions are below:


Summary

This report summarises recent findings from large opportunity samples of secondary-aged young people surveyed in schools from local authorities across England between 2002 and 2018.

Headline Findings

  • 6% of pupils aged 12-15y in 2018 were ‘fairly sure’ or ‘certain’ that they or their friends carry weapons or other items for protection.  In a related question, asked in different parts of the country, 8% of pupils aged 12-15y in 2018 said they at least ‘sometimes’ carry weapons or other items for protection.
  • The most common item reported as being carried was something with a blade or point (64% of those describing a weapon).
  • 8% of pupils aged 12-15y in 2018 say they have been the victim of violence or aggression in the area where they live.
  • 77% of pupils aged 12-15y in 2018 rate their safety at school as ‘good’ or ‘very good’ (or say they feel ‘safe’ or ‘very safe’).  They find going out during the day safer than being at school, while going to and from school is reported as less safe, and going out after dark as much less safe.
  • 11% of pupils aged 12-15y in 2018 worry about crime ‘quite a lot’ or ‘very much’.
  • 40% of pupils aged 12-15y in 2018 say their lessons at school about safety are at least ‘quite useful’.

Trends

  • Between 2008 and 2018, reports of carrying weapons have been roughly stable, in both versions of the question; however, the figures are rather lower than we saw in 1996.
  • Being the victim of violence or aggression in the area where they live declined from 16% to 8% between 2004 and 2014, and have been stable at around 8% since then. 
  • Worrying about crime ‘quite a lot’ or ‘very much’ has fallen from 20% to 11% between 2006 and 2018.  In one local authority, worries about crime declined from 23% to 16% between 2008 and 2011, but have risen since to 23% in 2018.
  • Pupils were less likely to rate their lessons at school about safety as at least ‘quite useful’ in 2018 than in 2008.
  • Perception of safety in various settings (going out and at or near school) was higher in 2018 than in 2006, but perhaps is lower in 2018 that it was in around 2014.  There are regional differences in perceived safety, and local differences in how trends play out.

Demographic Differences

  • Carrying something for protection (by self or friends) is reported more often by boys and older pupils, and most often of all by Year 10 males (14%).
  • Carrying something for protection (by self or friends) is reported more often by pupils from ethnic minorities.
  • Carrying something for protection (by self or friends) is reported more often by pupils attending a school with a postcode in a more deprived area.
  • Carrying something for protection (by self or friends) is reported more often by pupils in London boroughs (12%) than by pupils from other regions of England.
  • Being the victim of violence or aggression in the area where they live is reported more often by boys and older pupils, and most of all by Year 10 males (13%).
  • Being the victim of violence or aggression in the area where they live is reported slightly more often by pupils from ethnic minorities (9% vs 8%).
  • Being the victim of violence or aggression in the area where they live is reported slightly more often by pupils attending a school with a postcode in a more deprived area, especially among White British pupils (in the least deprived areas, ethnic minority pupils are more likely to report being a victim)

Links between safety questions

  • Carrying something for protection (by self and/or friends) is associated with higher rates of being a victim of violence or aggression in the area where they live.
  • Carrying something for protection (by self and/or friends) is associated with higher worry about crime.

Links between safety questions and other topics

  • Carrying something for protection by self and/or friends is associated with:
    • Having fewer adults they can trust
    • Higher frequency of fear of going to school because of bullying
    • Lower self-esteem
    • Poorer perceptions of school
    • Dissatisfaction with life
  • Being the victim of violence or aggression in the area where they live is associated with:
    • Having no adults they can trust
    • Higher frequency of fear of going to school because of bullying
    • Lower resilience scores
    • Lower self-esteem
    • Lower wellbeing scores

Conclusions

We are aware of a number of news stories about young people and weapons, especially knives, just as we were 20 years ago.

The evidence from these figures is that carrying weapons, including knives, is overall less prevalent now than 20 years ago, but many of the same patterns and connections are present, suggesting that the same drivers and processes are still operating. 

The multiple connections also suggest that the factors and processes that produce knife crime are complex, and any policy responses may need to be equally complex.