Offence of threatening with an offensive weapon etc in a private place

Part of Offensive Weapons Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:00 pm on 28th November 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women 4:00 pm, 28th November 2018

I completely agree that we need to communicate the fact that the behaviour the hon. Lady described is utterly unacceptable, but she has given the example of a knife being pulled on a shop worker and legislation is already in place to deal with that. Furthermore, the independent Sentencing Council, which sets the guidelines for the judiciary across the country, has said that in that scenario the fact that the knife was pulled on a person in their line of work can be an aggravating factor. So the law is already there and we just need to make sure it is being used as effectively as possible, not just by our police, but by our judiciary.

On the point about serious violence more generally, the hon. Lady will know that we published the serious violence strategy in April. It has marked a step change in how we tackle serious violence, because we acknowledge that serious violence is no longer restricted to our large urban centres and is spreading out across the country, particularly with the rise of county lines. She will know that one of the drivers behind this rise in serious violence is drugs—the drug markets. A great deal of work is being done just on that one stream to tackle that.

For example, a couple of weeks ago we held an international conference, drawing together law enforcement and public health officials from across the world to talk about the rise in serious violence, because this is happening not only in the UK, but in other countries. From that conference, which I was able to attend, although sadly just for a little while, we could see the lessons that we can learn from other policing experts across the world and from public health officials. That is also why the Home Secretary has announced recently that we are looking into a consultation on making tackling serious violence a public health duty for local authorities—all arms of the state. That goes further than the models in Scotland and in Wales, which are often rightly cited as good examples, because we want to look into whether having a public duty will help with the sharing of information and the working together. Those of us who served on the Public Bill Committee and those of us who take a particular interest in this topic know that these things do not always work as well as they should.