Knife Crime and Community Harm

Knife crime, violence and exploitation have a negative effect on all those who live in, work in and visit Southwark. The council and partners are committed to support all sections of the community to address this problem. This page aims to give brief guidance so that people can get the help they need to make Southwark a safer and better place for all.

We need to be clear about the facts:

  • Carrying a knife is illegal; this includes anything intended to be used to harm another person, like a sharpened comb
  • Possession of a knife carries a prison sentence of up to 4 years even if it's not used
  • Carrying a knife increases the risk of being injured and of other people being injured
  • Police are allowed to stop and search someone if they believe a weapon is being carried

Young and vulnerable people are subject to developing forms of criminal and financial exploitation. “County Lines” is when drug gangs expand their operations to other areas, often using violence to drive out local dealers and exploiting children and vulnerable people to sell drugs.

“Square” or “Deets and Squares” is a form of money laundering where the proceeds of criminal activity is channelled through an often vulnerable person’s bank account. Often the payment that they receive is subsequently described as a loan and used as a lever to make them transport drugs.

Where to get help

  • Parents and carers can speak to the Youth Offending Service (YOS) on 020 7525 0900 if they are concerned that their child is “at risk of offending”. A member of the YOS team will be able to discuss the level of support that can be offered on a voluntary basis or suggest referral to other support services.

  • If there is a crime being committed or someone is in immediate danger people should call 999. If they have some information about a crime we would ask that they call the Police on 101. Further information is available here.  

  • If people feel unable to report crimes to the police directly they can make an anonymous report to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

  • Parents and carers can make a difference by talking through the issues with their children. Click here  for guidance about how to approach this issue.

  • If as a parent you need further confidential support to deal with these issues you can call Family Lives (formerly ParentLine) on 0808 800 2222.

  • We know that incidents can lead to feelings and stress that are difficult to cope with; you can contact your GP or the NHS on 111. Click here for more information about accessing NHS services. You can also contact Victim Support on 020 7277 1433. 

  • If you have concerns for the welfare or safety of a child at risk from knife crime, violence or exploitation you can make a referral to the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on 020 7525 1921, or email The MASH consists of the council and partners who will assess the risk and work out the best way to keep the child safe.