Figures from Auckland’s three DHBs show some 3,000 cuts have been made since 2016, at a cost to taxpayers of $20million. Photo / Hayden Woodward
At least one Aucklander is hospitalized with stab wounds every day, new figures reveal, raising fresh concerns about community safety across the city.
The stab wound figures come amid a spike in gun violence and drive-by shootings that have left many residents of the city’s western and southern suburbs living in fear.
And a criminologist warns that recent high-profile stabbings in Christchurch and Auckland are likely to prompt more people to carry knives for protection.
Documents released under the Official Information Act by Auckland’s three district health boards show victims of the city’s blade have suffered nearly 3,000 cuts over the past six years.
The cost to taxpayers of the treatment was nearly $20 million.
The Auckland District Health Board has treated the lion’s share of stabbing victims in the city, treating 2,180 stab wounds since January 2016, or 73% of the city’s total.
Manukau DHB counties recorded the second highest with 616 blade injuries, followed by Waitematā DHB with 152.
Nearly 240 injuries have involved youngsters being treated at Starship Children’s Hospital.
While the figures include violent attacks and “assaults with sharp objects”, they also cover other causes such as self-harm.
Auckland has been rocked by several horrific stab wounds.
In September, seven people were brutally attacked by a knife-wielding terrorist at the Countdown supermarket in New Lynn.
Ahamed Samsudeen grabbed a knife in an alley before going after unsuspecting shoppers. The Isis-inspired lone wolf, who was under 24-hour surveillance due to his threat level, was shot dead by police.
On June 23, an armed attacker randomly stabbed several strangers in Murrays Bay and Mairangi Bay with a “large knife” before being disarmed by members of the public.
A 41-year-old man faces serious charges and remains in secure custody at the Mason Clinic.
And Akash, 30, who goes by only one name, was sentenced last month to at least 15 years behind bars for the “barbaric” murder of his pregnant girlfriend.
Gurpreet Kaur, 22, suffered around 30 cuts and stab wounds in Akash’s car in 2016.
On June 25, three people were injured in separate stabbing attacks in central Auckland.
And police confirmed yesterday that two people were stabbed at the West City shopping center in Henderson last Friday.
Auckland DHB has confirmed that six people treated for stabbing since 2016 have died.
When asked why his stabbing figures were so high compared to other regions, he said Auckland Hospital was a regional trauma center for stabbings in Auckland and Northland.
“That means we get the majority of severe trauma cases.”
Figures from Manukau Counties DHB show 48 patients suffered injuries so severe they were admitted for at least five days.
The most frequently stabbed body part was the head/neck/shoulder/face (198), followed by the hands (139), arm (84), chest (77), abdomen ( 53), legs/hip/thigh/feet (43), other (12) and back (10).
The data comes amid a spike in gun violence in Tāmaki Makaurau and a series of drive-by shootings involving rival biker gangs the Tribesmen and Killer Beez.
In December, the Herald reported that worsening turf warfare and the criminal drug trade had led to an increase in the number of guns in circulation in the city and 350 patients hospitalized with gunshot wounds since January 2016.
More than half of those victims were treated at Middlemore Hospital.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said the number of people admitted to hospitals across the city appeared to include victims of domestic violence, assaults at parties or pubs and self-harm.
They have all put unwanted pressure on overburdened hospital emergency departments already dealing with the pandemic and other illnesses.
“Alcohol and mental illness will no doubt be a significant factor in many cases.
“Knives, razors, glasses and other tools used in assaults will result in serious injury, but not the massive damage that can be done by firearms.”
Goff said the use of a weapon in criminal cases was and should be an aggravating factor in sentencing.
“However, crime prevention actions are most important, particularly when we can address causes such as people in need of mental health treatment and actions to reduce alcohol abuse, which is one of the factors most frequently implicated in serious assaults.
Greg Newbold, emeritus professor at the University of Canterbury and a leading criminologist, said knife crimes tended to have an epidemic element.
A series of stab wounds often caused more people to carry knives for protection.
Recent high-profile attacks like the random murder of Christchurch mother Laisa Maraia Waka Tunidau could lead more people to carry knives due to a perceived risk of being stabbed, Newbold said.
“People are starting to fight with people they think they can beat and the best way to equalize is to pull out a knife.”
Young people from working-class neighborhoods and gangs were most likely to carry knives, with knife crimes often occurring late at night on the streets, involving alcohol and strangers.
“People under 25 are often unaware of the consequences, legal or otherwise, of carrying a knife or using it on someone. If someone punches you in the nose and you stab him in the guts, you’re in a barrel of trouble.”
Superintendent Shanan Gray, the Tāmaki Makaurau police deployment manager, noted that several high-profile violent incidents in recent weeks in the city may have raised concern.
“We understand that any incident involving violence not only affects the victim, but impacts families, friends and the wider community.”
Gray said incidents involving stab wounds could involve a variety of factors, making it difficult to comment on a specific trend.
“Any incident where violence is used or threatened is not condoned by the police and the public can expect us to continue to hold offenders to account.”