Knife Crime

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th November 2017.

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Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Conservative, Wimbledon 12:00 am, 20th November 2017

What recent steps she has taken to reduce the level of knife crime.

Hear, hear!

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

Thank you, Mr Speaker—no pressure.

We are taking a range of actions to tackle knife crime. I am particularly concerned that children and young people should not carry knives. Early intervention and prevention are key. That is why we have launched the new anti-knife community fund worth half a million pounds for voluntary groups who work with children and young people to support early intervention and prevention projects. The successful bids will be announced very shortly.

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Conservative, Wimbledon

On behalf of my right hon. and hon. Friends, I congratulate the Minister on her appointment. I thank her for her answer; she responded to the pressure well. Does she agree that it is a concern that, under the current Mayor, knife crime in London has risen in the past year? Does she also agree that the decision to close Wimbledon police station is clearly wrong-headed in that regard?

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I thank my hon. Friend for his kind comments.

Every death from knife crime is a tragedy for the families, friends and communities affected by it. That is precisely why addressing knife crime is a Government priority. This includes work such as supporting intervention with young people when they enter hospital accident and emergency units, to try to reach them at a vulnerable time, and supporting the police in their Operation Sceptre work, which this July saw 32 forces involved in a week of action that resulted in nearly 3,000 knives being seized or recovered.

On my hon. Friend’s local police station, since 2015 we have protected overall police spending in real terms, and crimes traditionally measured by the crime survey of England and Wales have fallen by over a third since 2010. But of course any decisions on police stations are a matter for police and crime commissioners, and, in London, a matter for the Mayor of London.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield

In a kindly spirit, I welcome the Minister, but I ask her, please, to look at the facts. We cannot confront knife crime without police on the streets and without the police who used to have the time to go into schools and talk to students. That budget is being cut. Will she look again at the capacity of the police to be on the streets and in schools?

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

That is a matter on which I hope we can work across the House, because knife crime, sadly, affects most of our constituencies. In terms of actions that the Government are taking, at a national level we are supporting the police with Operation Sceptre, which has had a great deal of success. There is also an emphasis on local police forces doing their bit—knowing the terrain and the local population, as they do, and using intelligence-led targeting to make sure that we get the people who are carrying the knives.