Increasing numbers of women are being caught carrying knives by police in England, with the number of offences up 73% over the last five years, data obtained by the BBC shows. Some 1,509 were recorded in 2018, according to figures from 38 of England’s 39 forces.
Jennifer Blake, a gang leader-turned community worker from Peckham, in south London, says : “For some women it’s a normal thing to have in your bag, like lipstick. We have got girls that stab, but… no-one wants to talk about it because no one knows how to deal with it.”
Youth workers say some women carry weapons for gangs as they are less likely to be stopped by police if, say, they are pushing a pram. Heather Nelson, of the Black Health Initiative in Leeds, says: “They’re asked to be the couriers of these weapons and they’ll agree to do that because they want to please their partner.” With a record number of fatal stabbings in England and Wales in the last year, the Home Office says it’s investing £220m into steering young people away from violent crime. For female offenders specifically, it says it’s funding advocates to work with gang-affected young women in London, Manchester and the West Midlands