Young victims of violent crime in London are using DIY methods including hair-weaving needles and superglue to stitch themselves up in a bid to avoid going to hospital, the Mayor of London said Thursday.
Sadiq Khan was taking part in a call-in segment on a local radio station when he revealed the lengths some young people have reportedly gone to over fear of reprisals.
“The concern many young people have who are using DIY methods of treating themselves is that they may be arrested and charged, as well as their concern is in relation to personal safety, retaliation and reprisals,” he said on LBC radio.
“It’s something that is happening far too often in London. This is victims of knife crime treating themselves with these sort of weaving wig needles or even superglue. I’ve heard stories of people using scalpels.”
Khan continued: “The two main reasons given by people who are experts is: one, concern they themselves could be arrested, charged, prosecuted; but secondly, they are worried about somebody turning up at the A&E (emergency room) or the trauma center from gang B.”
Khan – who took office in 2016 – said violent crime has been increasing both in London and across the country since 2014. Responding to criticism that knife crime has spiked during his tenure in office, Khan said cuts to police numbers in the UK capital began under his predecessor (and now frontrunner in the Conservative Party leadership race) Boris Johnson.
While London is the worst-affected region, the problem is a national one. Police recorded a total of 40,577 offenses involving a knife or sharp instrument last year – 10,000 more than in 2011 – while knife offenses have risen for five consecutive years.
During the interview, Khan held up a curved hair-weaving needle as an example of the type of implement being used.
“We’ve also heard examples of people using superglue and using scalpel tweezers to remove shotgun pellets. Just think about the complications there could be from internal bleeding and from infection. But also you aren’t receiving the specialist help you require from clinicians but also police and youth workers either,” Khan said.
“My message to a young person, or a big brother or big sister, uncle, aunty, mom or dad who knows somebody who is treating themselves – it is so dangerous. Honestly, the possibility of infections, the possibility of internal bleeding – it is just not worth the risk you are taking in relation to self-treating.”
He added: “You’re taking a risk with your own life, you’re taking a risk with your child’s life by allowing him or her to self-treat.”
CNN’s Rob Picheta contributed to this report.