Knife Crime Callouts on the Rise in the Capital Area

Over the last few weeks, police have intervened in an increasing number of weapons-related incidents, particularly involving knives, RÚV reports. The weapons have all been confiscated, and police have issued a reminder that the carrying of weapons of any kind is prohibited under the Weapons Act.

The Weapons Act applies equally to smaller knives, like pocket knives, as it does to larger blades. The only exception is if the individual carrying the knife needs it for their work or while out hunting.

According to the police blotter, knife-related conflicts have not only been happening late at night, downtown on the weekends, but also throughout the city and even in private homes in some cases.

Comprehensive statistics not available

Comprehensive statistics on police callouts related to knives are not readily available, Rannveig Þórisdóttir, division manager of the National Police, told RÚV. Preliminary analysis indicates that individuals committing robberies are often armed, although the weapons are not always used in the course of the crime. It appears that the number of armed robberies began to increase after 2016, but this may simply be due to better record-keeping and reporting as of that year.

In 2015 and 2016, there were an average of 15 incidents a month in which a knife was confiscated. From 2017 to 2019, this number steadily rose until it reached an average of 23 knife-related incidents a month. There were spikes within this period, namely in July 2018 and 2019, which both saw 42 knife-related incidents. This number dropped somewhat after the COVID-19 pandemic to 21 knife-related incidents a month.

Extraordinary jump in knife-related incidents in July

The number of knife-related incidents seems to be on the rise again; in July, there were 42—back up to the high of 2018 and 2019. The police emphasize, however, that these latest figures do not reflect the number of callouts in which the person in question was armed, simply those incidents in which a knife was confiscated. They say, however, that the numbers do indicate a surge in weapons-carrying in the capital area.

Common for Children to be Admitted to Hospital with Nicotine Poisoning

There are several cases a week of children being admitted to the hospital with nicotine poisoning after ingesting nicotine pouches, RÚV reports. Ragnar Grímur Bjarnason, chief physician at the Children’s Hospital, says most poisonings occur at home and many parents don’t realise that nicotine is a strong toxic chemical that can have much more serious consequences for children than adults.

Snus, a moist tobacco powder, is illegal in Iceland, but nicotine pouches are very similar. These are small, hand-or premade sachets filled with loose tobacco powder and then held between the upper lip and the gum for extended nicotine release. Although cigarette smoking has declined in Iceland, nicotine pouches have seen an increased popularity in recent years, particularly among young people. In 2021, nearly a third of Icelanders aged 18-34 were using nicotine pouches on a daily or nearly daily basis.

See Also: Health Minister Presents Bill to Regulate Nicotine Pouch Sales

Nicotine poisonings among children are not a new phenomenon, says Ragnar Grímur. “Naturally, when everyone was vaping, the oils were being left out all over the place. They smelled good and were pretty colours. So at that time, we were getting a lot of those poisonings. They’re also flavoured and taste much better than cigarettes in an ashtray, which was the main cause of [nicotine] poisoning a few decades ago.”

Nicotine poisoning is very serious for children and can necessitate intensive care or even be life-threatening.

“Most people who have tried nicotine know what the most common reactions are,” says Ragnar Grímur. “There’s nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and discomfort. But in children, it can also have very serious effects on the central nervous system.”

Municipal Authorities Suggest Egilsstaðir for Development as Alternate Airport

Municipal authorities in the eastern district of Fljótsdalshérað want to strengthen the infrastructure of the Egilsstaðir airport due to the ongoing seismic activity on the Reykjanes peninsula, RÚV reports.

It’s possible that the current eruption in Meradalir and last year’s eruption in Geldingadalur herald the arrival of a long period of volcanic unrest on the Reykjanes peninsula, something that would put the Keflavík airport—and the single roadway leading to it—at significant risk. As such, many political leaders, including Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir and Minister of Infrastructure Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, agree about the importance of establishing an alternate airport somewhere else in the country.

Egilsstaðir is not the only town angling for airport development, however. Just last week, Halla Signý Kristjánsdóttir, an MP for the Progressive Party and a member of the transportation committee, suggested that an airport could be built in Mýrar in Borgarfjörður, West Iceland. Akureyri in North Iceland has also been put forth as an option.

Vilhjálmur Jónsson, one of the local government chairmen in Fljótsdalshérað, says Egillstaðir is well-suited for the project. “The conditions at Egilsstaðir are in some ways more suitable and I also think that if there are going to be these weekly disruptions that [it would be good to be able to] spread flights to other airports if there was a major incident.”

“The situation is not a new one,” Vilhjálmur concluded, “but these earthquakes on Reykjanes now will maybe finally push it.”

Reykjavík Formally Dedicates Square in Honor of Kyiv

Kyiv Square was formally dedicated in a ceremony presided over by Reykjavík mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson on Wednesday. Vísir reports that the square is located on the corner of Garðastræti and Túngata, just blocks away from the Russian embassy. The square will also bear the name Kænugarður in Icelandic, an old Icelandic name for the Ukrainian capital.

See Also: Kænugarður, the ancient Icelandic name for Kyiv

Mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson and attendees of the formal dedication of Kænugarður, or Kyiv Square. Photo via Reykjavíkurborg, FB

A sign designed by artists and spouses Óskar Hallgrímsson, who is Icelandic, and Mariika Lobynsteva, who is Ukrainian, was hung during the dedication.

“This [dedication] is, first and foremost, a symbolic gesture,” said the mayor during the ceremony. “It doesn’t stop war or alleviate suffering, but it underscores Reykjavík’s support for Kyiv and Icelanders’ support of Ukraine. And perhaps it also underscores the need for us to be prepared to stand with Ukraine and welcome Ukrainians with open arms for as long as the war continues.”

Kristófer Gajavsky, who has been part of efforts to support Ukrainian refugees in Iceland, said that the location of the square was important. “We can definitely say that this is a thorn in their side, that we’re all here, standing together against the war.” The square will be a symbol of hope for Ukrainians in Iceland, Kristófer continued. “For us, this is a day of celebration.”

Lava Could Reach Reykjanes Roadway If It Rises Any Higher

Meradalir eruption, August 2022

It’s possible that lava from the ongoing eruption in Meradalir could flow eastward in the next 24 hours, RÚV reports. Professor of Geophysics Magnús Tumi Guðmundsson says that if this were to happen, the lava would have a direct path to Rte. 427. Also called Suðurstrandavegur, this road runs along the south coast of the Reykjanes peninsula between the municipalities of Grindavík and Ölfus.

Magnús Tumi notes that the lava hasn’t yet started flowing out of Meradalir. “However, in the last two days, the lava by the mountain pass, which is the lowest point out of the valley to the east, has risen seven to eight metres [23-26 feet]. And it will only take maybe a metre or so for it to overflow. So if the situation continues like this, the lava will overflow the valley soon.”

It’s difficult to say if the lava would actually reach Suðurstrandavegur, says Magnús Tumi. “But in order to be able to estimate any sort of timeline, it’s vital that we be able to take new measurements of the lava volume and thereby the flow.” Unfortunately, ongoing weather conditions since Thursday have prevented scientists from taking these critical measurements.