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Head of Scotland Yard's murder squad: it's up to parents to tell their children to stop carrying knives
Detective Chief Superintendent Mick Duthie, head of the Met’s homicide squad, said police and other agencies alone could not tackle the problem of youngsters carrying knives.
In an interview with the Standard he spoke of how 13 teenagers had been murdered in the capital last year, all of them stabbed.
He said: “Every one of these is dreadful. Not only have you got 13 kids who have lost their lives, you have 13 families whose lives have been destroyed and you have probably got 26 suspects or so who will go to prison and their families are destroyed as well.”
Det Ch Supt Duthie, who retires this week after four years in the role, said: “We end up picking up the pieces but knife crime is a society problem.
Quamari Barnes was just 15 when he was stabbed to death
Djodjo Nsaka was stabbed to death in Wembley
His comments follow the knife murders of two teenagers in London so far this year and statistics showing knife crime in the capital is rising by 14 per cent.
“Schools are trying to do a lot, we are trying to do a lot, there are lots of community groups and others doing things too but none of us is there behind closed doors.
“The difficulty is if someone wants a knife then you only have to go to your kitchen at home. That is where families have got to challenge youngsters.
“If you know your kid’s got a knife then what are you doing about it because police cannot get into people’s homes. Parents need to have a conversation with their kids.
“The options are you try and stop them going out with a knife or you go to the police or you go to someone who can speak to your child if you cannot. But I know it’s not easy.”
Schoolboy Quamari Barnes, 15, was killed last month while waiting at the bus stop outside his school in Willesden and 19-year-old student Djodjo Nsaka was fatally wounded with a knife near Wembley stadium three days earlier.
The Met’s own intelligence also shows more young people appear to be carrying knives for their protection, rather than being linked to crime or gangs.
Last year Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe warned that too many youngsters were “casually carrying knives” saying many serious stabbings resulted from casual encounters.
Mr Duthie said statistics showed that children who carried knives were more likely to end up becoming a victim.
He added: “It’s just such a waste of life. You really feel for the families, and for the kids that have died. You think just what a waste, simply because someone felt they would be safe because they carried a knife.”
He said the number of teenagers murdered in London had fallen from 19 to 13 last year while the total of number of knife murders had hardly changed, increasing by just one case to 61.
The number of firearms murders rose from 10 in 2015 to 12 last year. The total included Marvin Cousins, 39, who died of his injuries 13 years after he was shot.
In total there were 108 homicides in the capital in 2016 compared to 120 the previous year.
There was also a significant fall in the number of domestic violence murders – down to 14 from 25 in 2015 – the lowest total in recent years.
Instead, police say they are seeing a rise in more complex cases involving mental health issues and multiple offenders, some with links overseas.
Detectives travelled to Ghana last year to help in the extradition of cannabis dealer Arthur Simpson-Kent, the killer of ex-Eastenders actress Sian Blake and her two young sons while officers are still investigating the murder of father of two Luther Edwards, 32, who was “hunted down” and stabbed to death after an argument at a boxing match in July last year. So far nine men have been arrested.
Det Ch Supt Duthie said homicide detectives were also engaged in re-investigating historic cases with the help of new forensic techniques.
He added: “There are hundreds of people who work on this command who are all dedicated to solving every murder. We are relatively safe compared to other big cities across the world but we never give up on a case.”