Dr John Crichton is appealing for the more wide-spread production and sale of blunt-tipped knives in a bid to reduce Scottish homicide rates. Knives are known as the most commonly used murder weapon.
The Scottish forensic scientist is best known as one of the key witnesses for the prosecution against Theresa Riggi. The US-born defendant stood trial for the murder of her three children and was convicted for stabbing them to death. The crime took place in Edinburgh in August 2010.
According to Crichton, blunt-tipped knives can be as effective in the kitchen as those with pointed blades, but are less likely to be used as weapons, the Scotsman reports. If people have harder access to potentially lethal tools, murder rates in Scotland could be reduced, Crichton argues. He points out that Riggi originally intended to kill her family with gas but chose kitchen knives as an easier option.
The Scottish scientist, who argues the case for blunt-tipped knives in the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, believes that murder rates could be reduced by introducing controlled access to pointed knives for certain groups – for example people with a recent knife offence on their record. This would be similar to measures which have helped bring down suicide rates in the UK; research has shown that the number of suicides declined after kitchen cookers started using natural gas instead of coal gas and restrictions were imposed on the amount of paracetamol people can buy at any one time. It may be possible to achieve a similar effect on murder rates if access to pointed knives is a bit more difficult, Crichton concludes.