DCSIMG

Doctors seek kitchen knife ban

Key points

• Doctors claim long kitchen knives serve no purpose except as weapons

• 55 out of 108 homicide victims in Scotland were stabbed last year

• Police superintendents say a ban would be difficult to enforce

Key quote

"Many assaults are impulsive, often triggered by alcohol or misuse of other drugs, and the long pointed kitchen knife is an easily available, potentially lethal weapon, particularly in the domestic setting" - Dr Emma Hern, writing in British Medical Journal

Story in full LONG, pointed kitchen knives should be banned as part of a concerted effort to reduce the terrible injuries and deaths caused by stabbing attacks, doctors warned today.

Accident and emergency medics claim the knives serve no useful purpose in the kitchen but are proving deadly on the streets of Britain, with the doctors claiming the knives are used in as many as half of all stabbings.

The doctors claimed they had consulted leading chefs who said the knives were not needed for cooking - a claim disputed by chefs contacted by The Scotsman.

Latest figures from the Scottish Executive show that in 2003, 55 of 108 homicide victims were stabbed by a sharp instrument - often a kitchen knife.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, specialist registrar Dr Emma Hern and emergency medicine consultant Dr Mike Beckett said a short pointed knife may cause a substantial superficial wound if used in an assault, but is unlikely to penetrate to inner organs. However, a pointed long blade pierces the body like "cutting into a ripe melon".

Internal organs can be heavily damaged, causing serious injury or death. The doctors said long knives with blunt ends - such as bread knives - would do far less damage.

Dr Hern said: "Many assaults are impulsive, often triggered by alcohol or misuse of other drugs, and the long pointed kitchen knife is an easily available, potentially lethal weapon, particularly in the domestic setting. Government action to ban the sale of such knives would drastically reduce their availability over the course of a few years."

Scotland's most respected pathologist, Professor Anthony Busuttil, said: "All the statistics show that for the last 15 years, victims of stabbings, whether fatal or seriously injured, are caused by kitchen knives such as steak knives rather than knives bought specially for the purpose."

Restaurateurs and chefs reacted angrily to suggestions of banning kitchen knives. Malcolm Duck, chairman of the Edinburgh Restaurateurs Association, said: "Kitchen knives are designed for a purpose. It would be like asking a surgeon to perform an operation with a bread knife instead of a scalpel. Anything in the house like a cricket bat could be used as weapon in the hands of an idiot."

Chief Superintendent Tom Buchan, president of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents, said although a ban on sharp, pointed kitchen knives would be welcome, it could be difficult to enforce.

 
 
 

Back to the top of the page