Met police
File photo: Metropolitan police officer iStock

In a country such as the United Kingdom, in a capital city such as London, you always have to have your wits about you. Recent terror attacks have put people on edge, but most people stick to the old adage of 'keep calm and carry on.'

But in 2017, a growing problem claimed more lives than all those terror attacks combined - knife crime.

In the year up to September 2017, the Office for National Statistics revealed that there were more than 37,000 recorded knife offences, with a large amount of these on the streets of the capital.

London saw an increase in knife related incidents by almost 25%, accounting for 35% of the total knife crimes in the UK, with 12,980 reported cases.

As a journalist who has worked both in local and national news, I have written about knife crime, violent attacks and even murders.

For a reporter, those sort of incidents are the bread and butter of journalistic training, and all to often we speak to the victims of families of those who have lost loved ones or those who are recovering from brutal attacks.

Journalists have to show a level of sympathy to those victims, but there is always a mental block preventing you from truly allowing your feelings on the matter to either cloud your judgement or to get too emotionally involved.

The majority of the time, we can stand back because we are reporting on these crimes second hand, but when you become the victim, perspectives change in a flash.

How I became a victim

On Tuesday 20 February, I was walking through a part of East London where I have lived for more than half a year.

It was 7.05pm - not exactly what you'd call a dangerous time to be walking alone at night. It was dark, but fairly well lit.

I was walking down what can be described as an alleyway of sorts, to my left was a garden conservation area surrounded by metal fencing and to my right was houses.

I was approached by two young men; they asked if I "wanted weed" to which I firmly said "no" and walked off.

But the pair blocked my path, the shorter of them instantly pulled out a knife which was probably at least three inches long - enough to cause serious internal damage.

The sight of a knife changes everything. I would have pushed them away or ran off, but when a knife enters the equation, it changes everything.

They corned me against the metal fencing and demanded I hand over my money. I pleaded with them, telling them that I didn't have any on me.

I showed them my empty wallet, to which they then demanded my card. It was at this point that I ran.

They chased after me. I had gone about 30ft when my instincts told me to stop. If they caught me, there was a high chance that I was going to get stabbed, so the best thing to do was, stop, and attempt to calm the situation down.

I again pleaded with them. One attempted to make a grab for my phone. They were becoming increasingly aggressive. The blade at one stage was just a centimetre away from my abdomen.

I was running out of options and time, I noticed that my breathing was becoming laboured. So my instincts kicked in again, this time to play on that.

I started to pronounce my breathing even more, to the point where I was effectively hyperventilating.

In my mind this would either scare them away, attract nearby residents or if it failed they would simply attack me and mug me anyway.

Miraculously, after about 30 seconds of my hyperventilating, the pair decided to back off and walk away.

I had to keep up the act until they were well away in case they decided to make chase again, but luckily my ordeal was over.

I moved quickly to a busy main road which was just a hundred metres away and called the police.

It was a shocking experience, one which turned me from sympathetic journalist to paranoid victim, unsure about where to look next.

I had walked down that pathway on dozens of occasions both late at night and in broad daylight, I now avoid it.

I've changed routes now whenever I have to walk in the dark and I've sadly become very judgemental of others and the threat that those around me could pose.

These things will ease in time, but it was a stark reminder of how quickly things can change.

What struck me the most was firstly how young the pair were, probably no more than 18 years old, and secondly how calm they were when they walked away. This is a norm on the streets of London now.

I have to applaud the speed of the Metropolitan Police who were with me within minutes of calling them.

They supported me as I gave them a statement in the back of a police van less than 15 minutes after the attack had taken place.

But it has highlighted to me the ongoing problem that London has with knives.

London knife crime

Speaking in the wake of the Camden knife attacks, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: "We are doing everything we can from City Hall to tackle the scourge of knife crime. Last week I announced new funding for 1,000 additional police officers and also a new £45m Young Londoners Fund to provide alternative paths away from crime.

"However, knife crime is rising across the UK, not just here in London – this is a national problem that requires national solutions. Londoners need the Government's help if we are to beat it."

The Met Police have also been working on a special taskforce to tackle the growing issue of knife crime.

Operation Sceptre involves a group of around 100 officers, who are working with borough officers to target knife crime hotspots.

Acting Detective Chief Superintendent Sean Yates said: "This latest week of Sceptre action involved a strong focus on all three local forces coming together to tackle knife crime. Crime does not recognise police boundaries, and neither do we.

"This work is carried out every day across London. There is an ongoing, concerted effort by officers across the Met to tackle this scourge on our streets.

Knife bins can be found throughout London as part of the Met's effort to take knives off the streets. A map showing the location of the bins is available on our website at

If you have information about anyone carrying or using knives please contact your local police via 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.