By Alex Daud Briggs
The streets of Cardiff have been especially cold recently. Within 24 hours, two men recently became the victims of reported knife attacks in the city, one on Friday January 31 at 07:40 in Riverside and the other on Saturday February 1 at 02:00 in Butetown. Both men were taken to Cardiff University Hospital of Wales. The first man is reportedly in stable condition, but unfortunately the second man remains in a critical condition.
As a result of these crimes, the South Wales Police Department has been given the authority to enact a 24-hour Section 60 stop and search order within the areas of Riverside, Butetown and Grangetown. This means that the police were able to search anyone within these three places for the complete 24-hours as well as anything carried by them that they deem suspicious; they could also stop any vehicle and search its passengers. The aim of Section 60 is to “prevent serious violence, to find dangerous instruments or apprehend anyone carrying weapons.”
While the stop and search was meant to end at 14:00 on February 2, it was then extended by another 9 hours to ensure “the safety of the public”. Ultimately, 48 people were stopped and searched within the areas over the 24-hour period and two were arrested for crimes unrelated to the stabbings due to recovering a “significant” amount of money and drugs.
South Wales Police do not believe that the two stabbings were unrelated to each other and they are the latest attacks in a rising series of knife-related crimes across South Wales in the last few years. The police recorded 1,309 incidents of knife crime in September 2018, a 38% increase from September 2009.
Two possible reasons given for the rise in crime are ‘fashion trends’ and county lines. Professor Jonathan Shepard of Cardiff University’s Crime and Security Research Institute stated the carrying weapons has become fashionable, particularly among those dealing drugs. County lines likewise refers to criminal gangs sending young drug dealers to cities like Cardiff and Swansea to sell their products, resulting in a higher frequency of knife crime. As both drug dealers and users are carrying weapons, spontaneous violence and stabbings have become more common.
With this being said, Prof Shepard states that this is not an epidemic spanning across all areas of Cardiff but rather a “localised problem in areas where gangs are involved”. The Professor also stated that despite knife crime rates going up, fatal causalities of knife crimes have not and it is more likely for regular Cardiff citizens to be killed by a car than a knife.
Many students of Cardiff University have stated that they feel uncomfortable with the amount of violence in the city and if going outside late at night, they prefer to leave the house with a group if they can.
Not only has knife crime been perceived to be on the rise in the city, but more and more students are also reporting break ins and encounters with dangerous individuals on the streets of Cathays. Multiple students reported on popular Facebook page ‘Overheard at Cardiff University’ that they have had vehicles broken into, and more recently, many students have warned that individuals have been trying to enter houses on Rhymney Street.
Ultimately, South Wales Police has said that the prevention of knife crime in the capital is a serious priority for them and anyone with information on the recent stabbing incidents should contact 101, privately message the South Wales Facebook page, or contact ‘Crimestoppers’ anonymously on 0800 555 111.