As the United Kingdom struggles with how to curb its ongoing knife crime epidemic, one police department has proposed a solution for cutting down on attacks in homes: Replacing knives with blunt-tipped cutlery in the kitchens of domestic abuse victims.
What are the details?
The Nottinghamshire Police Department recently floated the idea to the county's city council as a way of preventing potential victims from being stabbed to death by their partners, The New York Times reported. While critics of the plan initially laughed it off, the authorities have already purchased 100 specially-manufactured knives to be distributed to at-risk survivors who have been attacked or threatened with a knife in the past.
A pilot program is being launched to gauge the efficacy of the plan before deciding whether to continue it past the end of the year, police say. According to The Daily Mail, the force received $1.5 million in taxpayer dollars to implement the initiative.
The knife trade-in scheme has been met with mixed reviews. According to the BBC, domestic abuse survivors have called it everything from "quite ludicrous" to "100 percent positive." A retired judge told the outlet it "could save lives," while psychologist and interpersonal abuse expert Dr. Jessica Eaton said on Twitter that the Nottingham police were "morons" for thinking blunt knives would prevent domestic attacks from happening.
Eaton told The Times, "The problem is not the sharpness of the knife. The problem is male violence."
She continued, "The risk comes from the offender, not the knife. We know that blunt trauma can cause death. Just because a knife has been blunted doesn't mean that it won't pierce the skin or kill someone."
But the Nottingham Police Department's new knife crime strategy manager says critics "got the whole idea wrong."
He told the BBC, "It's a very small trial, and it will always be part of a much wider range of measures that we are doing to safeguard and protect that victim. We will simply have these (knives) as an offer to somebody in appropriate circumstances and they can have them if they think they want them."
The U.K. has struggled for years to come up with schemes — such as "surrender" boxes — to reduce knife attacks in the country, but to no avail.
The Daily Mail reported last week that stabbings in the nation hit a nine-year high, with more than 22,000 cases on record over the past 12 months.