Mar 14, 2019
England has a knife crime problem at the moment. Cities like Birmingham and London have experienced a rise in stabbings and it’s deeply upsetting. Sadly it never takes long, during periods of national grief, for a politician to come up with a stupid plan that involves technology.
Today’s lunacy comes from Scott Mann, who’s the MP for North Cornwall. He suggested, in a Tweet, that all knives sold in the UK should have an embedded GPS tracker presumably so some shadowy knife agency can build a control room somewhere to watch what all the knives are up to.
But this is an idea so stupid that I’m fairly sure Mann is auditioning for a writing job at The Onion.
Here’s what he said:
“Every knife sold in the UK should have a gps tracker fitted in the handle. It’s time we had a national database like we do with guns. If you’re carrying it around you had better have a bloody good explanation, obvious exemptions for fishing etc.”
So let’s break this down and understand why even a couple of seconds thinking before pressing send might have saved Mann from looking absurd.
Firstly, there are already quite a lot of knives in the UK. We often use them for things like cutting food and it’s not uncommon for people to own several. I have six knives in my kitchen alone. There are 66 million people in the UK and around 13 million under-18s – so let’s assume that every adult has three good knives, that’s 198 million bladed cooking instruments already in existence.
What’s the plan Mann? Retrofit all these knives with GPS trackers too?
Then there’s the notion that we can create a national knife database “like we do for guns”. As I’ve just explained, a national knife database would probably just be a list of all the people in the UK, because pretty much everyone has a knife sharp enough to stab someone with. The British Government isn’t good at creating databases, it can’t even centralise people’s health records without spending millions and then giving up on it without warning.
Even before we get to the absurdity of the GPS thing, imagine a database that contained every adult in the UK and, say, the serial number of every knife they owned. It would not be easy to manage, update and absurdly expensive to run and maintain. It also still ignores the fact that we have a lot of knives already and almost none of them has a serial number.