NEWS: Knife Attack in the UK

Silver Street, Burwell. Close to the scene of the Attack

NEWS: Knife Attack in Burwell, UK

At 930pm on the evening of Sunday, 8 August 2010, a 26 year old man was attacked with a knife in an alleyway running off Silver Street in Burwell.

The attacker was wearing a white zip up hooded top, was black, about 6 foot 5 inches tall and of a stocky build. The attacker walked up to the victim and asked him for a light. The attacker then proceeded to hit the victim in the face with a probable knife. The victim received slight injuries and was able to quickly run off.

Detective senior Constable Gayle of Cambridgeshire Police said “This was an unprovoked attack and has left the victim very shaken.” Anyone with information should call police on 0345 456 456 4.

Analysis and Lessons Learnt

The Environment

The street is the most likely place for muggings and robberies to occur. This is especially the case with quiet areas that lead off from busier areas. This is the case here as the victim was walking down an alleyway which runs off the main street of Silver Street. This is a high risk area for these types off attacks. An aware person would not have walked down that alleyway or would have otherwise been at a heightened state of awareness and would be looking for further warning signs of a possible attack.

The Time of Day

Most attacks such as this happen in the cover of night, as is the case here. Also, it is on the weekend where most of these types of attacks occur. This is because for any mugger or robber, this is when most potential victims are out and about. There is a large body of potential victims to choose from. This is a time when often, friends leave their group to go to some other area such as home, catch a train, withdraw money etc. They may also leave the group because of an argument, disagreement or fight. They often wait for someone to leave the safety of built up areas and get isolated. This is much like what a big cat does when it is stalking for its weaker, lone victims to leave the safety of the herd. An aware person would have known this was a higher threat time for muggings and robberies and would have been in a heightened state of awareness and be looking for other indicators of a possible attack.

The Profile of the Attacker

The attacker was a big framed man and was wearing a hooded top. In an alleyway, at night, this is another indicator a possible attack is presenting itself. The hooded top is a way the attackers minimize the risk of the victim being able to provide police with a useful description as it obscures much of their features. An attack such as this can be risky, that is why the attacker wants to increase his chances of success. Often, an attacker will be physically bigger. If they are not bigger, they will use a weapon to ensure compliance. They can also use numbers to increase the chance of compliance. They do not want their chosen victim to fight back. In an alleyway, at night coming across such a person as above, a more aware person would have turned around and left the alleyway. That is of course if they absolutely had to go down that alleyway at all considering the risks.

The Activity

This man approached the victim and asked a distracting question. This is a classic tactic of many muggers and robbers. By asking such a question even if the victim is on guard due to their sixth sense or hairs standing up on the back of their neck, asking a question prompts the brain to think of a response. At this time, the brain is no longer thinking of defending itself if the person attacks. Even for just a couple of seconds. This gives the attacker the opportunity to launch their attack. An aware person would have been waiting for the approaching person to ask a distracting question. This can be considered an almost confirmation that the approaching person is seriously considering launching an attack. The potential victims response right here, can determine if the attacker launches or not. If the person looks a bit stunned or surprised by the question, the attacker will most likely make the final decision to attack. If the person responds quickly in a positive and confident manner and seems ready, the attacker will most likely let the person go and wait for an easier mark.

The Weapon

The knife is the most likely weapon used in muggings and robberies in the UK. That is, unless you live in the US where firearms are the most likely. The victim seems uncertain if the attacker used a knife. We can not say for certain from the above information why the attacker thought the weapon was probably a knife. It is possible the victim noticed something in the mans hands and may have also received cuts to the face which indicated the man had a knife. The victim may not have even seen a weapon at all, but received cuts to the face which prompted the conclusion that a knife had been used. In these situations even close to this one detailed here, an aware person would pay close attention to any approaching persons hands to try to identify a weapon. Just because the approaching person is not holding a weapon when you first spot them, does not mean they will not discreetly draw one as they get closer. An aware person would maintain a watch on an approaching persons hands in case they draw a knife or other weapon from some location on the body. Often, an attacker will use a weapon such as a knife and the victim will not realise until after the event. After any encounter such as this, check over your body for blood as a weapon may have been used. You may not even feel any pain at all.


Overall, an attacker is going through numerous criteria to select a suitable victim. A person who seems unaware of the risks facing them is most likely to be chosen as a victim. A person who seems aware of their surroundings and seems to be looking for a potential attacker when in a higher risk area, will most likely be left alone. The attacker may think that person is more like them and street smart. Always remember, the attacker wants a quick and successful attack so they can get away cleanly. Deny them the perception that they can do this with you.

Although the attack is regrettable, the victim should never have walked down that alleyway, on the weekend, at night, by himself, allowed the attacker to approach him, and be surprised by the disarming question. The victim in this case was very lucky with the outcome, as it could have easily been much worse.

This attack could have easily been avoided.