Absent dads are to blame for the surge in knife crime, according to Britain’s top anti-violence police officer.
Jackie Sebire said it was easy to blame drugs, funding cuts or social media for the blade epidemic.
Dr Sebire, the Assistant Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police, said: “It’s not only about public services.
“It’s absent fathers, absent capable guardians in the community, it’s lack of role models.
“I don’t think we talk enough about those drivers around serious violence because it is easier to talk about drugs and social media.
“They do play a part, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not as simple as that.
“I’m not just saying fathers but it’s male role models in the community.
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“And where you do have positive male role models? They are potentially the drug dealers, or the exploiters, or the organised criminal networks. They become the positive male role model.
“We talk about the stereotype absent father whether they’re physically absent or too busy working every hour God sends.
“And actually children in those more affluent areas are left to their own devices as well.
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“Fathers can be physically present but absent in the child’s life.’’
Dr Sebire – the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s lead on serious violence – said `positive male role models’ were a `protective factor’ in young people’s lives.
But some parents did not even bother to collect their children from police stations.
“The worst thing is when mum and dad won’t come, or actually they’re too busy to come,’’ she said.
“That’s the saddest thing that I see when they have no care – whether it’s mum or dad – and we have to get the appropriate adult services because they can’t be bothered.’’
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Dr Sebire said violence had become 'normalised’ for many teens who did not fear going to prison.
“They see there are no consequences to that. They don’t care if they are going to be sentenced,’’ she said.
“What they care about is that moment.
“There is this normalisation of violence as part of youth culture. A lot of the violence is incredibly spontaneous. And so there is no consequence to these children’s, these young people’s actions.
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“It doesn’t guide their actions because they don’t worry about what’s going to happen to them.
“A knife allows them to conduct their criminal activity, whether they’re being exploited or whether that’s what they choose to do.’’
Knife crime rose 7% last year to a record 45,000 offences.
A study by the Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield found up to 27,000 youngsters identified as being gang members and over 300,000 knew one.
A review of 60 vulnerable teenagers in South London found nearly three quarters were not living with their dads.
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