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Crime in Britain Today: The Future and You

In my first two installments in this themed trilogy I looked at the national and local crime picture and how this was changing. I also provided some practical advice on how to avoid exposure to crime when outside the relative security of our confined property borders, such as our personal homes and cars.
In this final part, I want to consider the fact that crime is not a static phenomenon. The threats we face are evolving, sometimes very fast. The changing nature of these means we also need to adapt how we respond to optimise our own safety and security.
As a self defence community, we want to understand the development of crime and how we adapt and focus our training to maximise the preparation our students can make to be ready to defend themselves and their families, when necessary.
Here are some of the crime development areas that is emerging and considered in our thinking:-
– The latest Crime Survey in England and Wales shows a significant increase in crimes involving weapons such as firearms and knives, crimes of a violent nature and sexual assaults. Some of this increase appears to be connected with better police recording and improved victim reporting habits, but it also looks like that these types of crime are on the rise. In a society where we are becoming increasingly sophisticated through technology to protect ourselves, such as cyber-protection measures, property security features, vehicle security and tracking functionality, electronic device immobilisation and tracking, it may be an evolving criminal tendency to apply greater threat and violence levels to overcome the barriers presented by technology protection barriers.
– The overall police recording crime in the UK is on the rise again (by nearly 4% in the last year). Beyond our own borders, we also need to consider that as a global society we increasingly work and travel to foreign destinations where crime levels and threats are often different. Crime abroad may be more violent, with more weapons availability and different societal norms for behaviours towards women. Although not unknown in the UK, armed muggings, property invasions, car hi-jacking, kidnapping and sexual assaults can often be far more common place in other geographic regions we love to travel to for business or recreational reasons.
– Since the emergence of Islamic fundamentalism as a terror threat in the mid-to-late 1990s, this type of terror threat to the average civilian is evolving fast. The original modus operandi of the early years was more focused on large scale, media-headlined, group-planned bomb attacks. This is what civilians experienced shocking through globally reported attacks such as 9/11 (using air planes as bombs), Nairobi, Bali, Madrid, London, Moscow and numerous other locations.
– Most of us will be aware that this terrorist tactic was also changing in the last 10-15 years as law enforcement, intelligence agencies and transportation authorities became more responsive to the threat. Many attacks followed where the planning and execution became relatively more simple, the attacks were conducted by a smaller number of terrorist operatives with smaller firearms and often suicide bomb devices. These type of attacks became again shockingly known in Moscow, Mumbai, Beslan, Nairobi, Paris and many other locations.
– We have also seen a further development in the terrorist threat. Although even more simple in principle, it also presents an escalation in the civilian threat as the attacks are executed by lone terrorist operatives, sometimes operating under the radar of the intelligence services, having been indoctrinated in isolation or prepared by participation of current conflicts in the Middle East or Africa. These attacks do not even require firearms or explosives, but can be executed using bladed weapons available in the local hardware shop or supermarket. Many of them do involve smaller firearms such as assault rifles or handguns in what we now term ‘active shooter’ scenarios. Mostly conducted in public for maximum impact and publicity, these attacks have shocked, terrorised and made media headlines (such as the Lee Rigby attack) in London, France, USA and – under the UK media radar – almost daily in Israel in recent months.
– The most recent tactic that has potentially emerged, again in Israel, is attacks using knifes through house invasion, essentially forced entry away from public or law enforcement who can intervene, and conducting the terrorist murderous act in private. This tactic, if adopted elsewhere, brings another terrifying element in terrorist repertoire, where the current sanctuary, our private homes, which up to now have not been considered terror targets, become just so.
– A final development, just a few weeks old in general western awareness, is the so-called ‘taharrush gamea’, essentially a mass groping or sexual assault attack conducted by groups of men. Originally a Middle Eastern phenomenon, it gained western public notoriety from New Year’s celebrations in Cologne and other German cities where assailants were men of Middle Eastern or Northern African origin. Our society is also far less homogenous than just 10-15 years ago, with new cultures mixing more widely, bringing new experiences and benefits to our society, but in some cases also importing local norms of criminality and accepted violence.
It is clear when you look at how criminal or terrorist threats evolve and emerge that things change. Although the threats to persons through violence in many aspects maintain themselves, such as alcohol-fuelled violence or domestic abuse, new ones are created through the society we live in. Road rage, increase in weapons usage and terrorist threats are just some examples of new types of violence which were not as prominent in previous decades.
These new types of threats are why members of the public who want to optimise safety for themselves and their families increasingly recognise that traditional martial arts are not the solution for self defence. Gone are the days when The Karate Kid, the belt-winning boxer or any martial art film star can be seen as the pinnacle of expertise or symbol of handling personal threats of violence – we don’t see them as realistically dealing with the armed & violent house invasion, the car hi-jacking, the active shooter. The world is different and we need to adapt our self defence to it.
This is where responsible Krav Maga organisations and schools will take action. A non-changing set of techniques to new learning, tactics that ignore criminal psychology and human biomechanics and ignorance of the new threats we face will not deliver workable and safety-optimised solutions to members of clubs who do not adapt. Although Krav Maga is developed to deal with real world scenarios involving single or multiple attackers, both armed and unarmed, in many different environments, we need to constantly apply the expertise to evolve our training to the new world situation.
This is why Spartans Academy of Krav Maga and our network Krav Maga United Kingdom are working with leading experts in the criminal and counter-terror community to evolve and adapt our approach through intelligence and testing to change our techniques, tactics, thinking and training, where needed.
We have a mentoring partnership with Protect, the leading Israeli Security solutions specialist led by Itay Gil, the current consultant and mission planner, former chief instructor and Captain of Yamam. Yamam is the Israeli Police’s Counter-Terror Warfare and Hostage Rescue Unit, widely regarded as the leading special forces in the world. This relationship enables us to be instructed in the latest criminal and counter-terror close quarter combat and protection training, accrued and tested daily by decades of operational experience in Israel and abroad. We are trained by Protect in both Israel and the UK. We deliver this training directly to our student community. This training involves weapons defences based on battle-tested Yamam techniques, realistic scenario-based training such as road rage, car-hi-jacking, pub confrontations, public transport, third party defences and active shooter and weapons tactics and handling.
The nature of crime is changing. We have to evolve with it to optimise our protection.
Are you ready for the future?
Orjan Pettersen
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