Children are “risking their lives” by sewing up their knife wounds to avoid hospital, London’s mayor has said.
Sadiq Khan spoke out after an Anti-Knife UK investigation found teenage victims of crime avoided hospital over fears of arrest or reprisals.
More than 1,000 young people aged 10-19 were admitted to hospital with knife wounds in the UK last year, Anti-Knife UK said.
Mr Khan said all victims should go to hospital to seek correct treatment.
“City Hall has employed youth workers to be in A&Es and trauma centres in London to help young people who are the victims of crime to turn around their lives and help divert them from criminality and criminal gangs”, he said,
“Unfortunately, we have examples of some young Londoners who are the victims of crime not going to A&E because they’re worried about being arrested or reprisals.
“They are actually stitching themselves up or using superglue to fix their wounds.
“My message to them is – don’t do it. You’re risking your safety and you’re risking your life.”
Anti-Knife UK said gangs would pay someone with medical skills, or even a vet, to stitch the wounds of its members to avoid attracting attention.
Danny O’Brien, the organisation’s founder, said: “This is something that gangs have used for years. They will pay or use a person who has the medical experience be it a family member who works in the NHS or even a vet – to stitch up wounds.”
Met Police superintendent Leroy Logan said on Friday that England’s knife crime strategy focuses too much on punishing the perpetrators and blaming gangs.
It failed to take account of the fear and hopelessness some young people felt, with some not expecting to live past the age of 20, he said.
“There are those who don’t care if they live or die, or if anyone else lives or dies, because they don’t believe their shelf life goes beyond 20”, he added.
“If you’ve got that mindset you’ve got a real toxic mixture of urban deprivation and social exclusion.”
There have been 66 homicides in the capital this year, 46 of which were fatal stabbings.