Wednesday, June 07, 2006

How the media works, pt 598

Perspective on the 'knife crime epidemic' (as heard of in all papers) from a letter to the Guardian.
Two hundred and thirty-six homicides due to sharp instruments is the headline number in your article on the "stabbing epidemic" (Report, June 3). Actually, the number of murders caused by sharp instruments in the years before were 261 (2001-02), 266 (2002-03) and 234 (2003-04) - indeed in 1995 there were 243. However reprehensible knife crime is, this hardly constitutes an epidemic; you could possibly talk of a slight decline. What is of greater interest is how such moral panics are constituted and their basis in flimsy facts and sensationalist journalism.

Prof Jock Young
University of Kent

Professor Young is professor of sociology, with a specialism in criminology. He knows of what he speaks.

I don't want to underplay the need to tackle the issue, but I'm always aware that the fear of crime is often worse than the reality.

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