A FORMER police sergeant says the only real solution to knife crime is education.

With violent crime dominating national headlines, the public’s eyes are focussed on Britain’s rising levels of knife-related offences.

The number of knife or sharp instrument offences recorded by Thames Valley Police has risen from 379 in 2014/15 to 1,075 in 2016/17. The figures were issued in a Home Office report on knife crime published last month.

Margie McGregor, of Woodstock, was a police sergeant in the 1950s and 1960s. She was initially based in Amersham, then High Wycombe, before covering Oxfordshire.

She said that the only real solution comes much earlier than police enforcement.

Ms McGregor said: “The horror of losing a member of your family through knife crime must be truly devastating. A parent, sibling or grandparent could never get over such a loss.

“There is only one way to stop this and it is not an easy way. It is very early prevention through education, for children from primary school, to have their feelings heard and cared for by the teachers.”

Ms McGregor established a charity after her work in the police that aimed to create relationships between troubled youngsters and adults. The children involved were encouraged to select a hobby and the charity supported the development of whatever activity was chosen.

The Friendship Trust connected children with adults who could help them hone whatever hobby or craft they were interested in. A young boy who was interested in becoming a blacksmith, for example, was introduced to a farrier.

Ms McGregor said the potential for transformation was staggering.

She said: “The only contact he had with adults was being told off in the corridor. I arranged for him to see a farrier once a week.

“From then on he was only stopped by teachers who asked him how he was getting on with the blacksmith.”

The objective was achieving friendship between the adults and children - a friendship that grew our of the shared hobby or craft.

She said that organisations - whether schools or social services - had a habit of sidelining the significance of human relationships, acting instead as a barrier to them.

Ms McGregor continued: “You get young institutionalised people in school, in care homes, dealt with by the police and then put in prison.

“They get blocked off from this emotional intelligence.”

She said a child today who regards people as nothing more than ‘things’ would be more capable of using a knife.

Ms McGregor suggested that the humanity within children is unlocked when their feelings are heard by adults, adding: “Until our general education is based upon these principles, we will not see change and we will not prevent knife and other dire crimes, because human beings, people of all ages, are not objects, not things.”