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

Part of Offensive Weapons Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:15 pm on 28th November 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Vernon Coaker Vernon Coaker Labour, Gedling 5:15 pm, 28th November 2018

Let me start by saying that I think we are all pleased with what the Minister has just said to my right hon. Friend David Hanson about his new clause 1. The shop workers of the country, the unions and people across the whole of our nation will be pleased with that and will look forward to what we come up with in due course.

In the short time available, as so many others wish to speak, I want to refer to the excellent new clause 6, tabled by my hon. Friend Louise Haigh. Serious violence in this country with the use of offensive weapons is almost an epidemic, if it is not already one. Across our nation, young people, in particular, are regularly being killed on our streets. Young people in particular, including in Gedling, in Nottingham and beyond, face attacks with knives day after day, week after week. This is a national emergency. In the short term, all of us would of course want to see tougher policing and the perpetrators being put behind bars. All that is a given, but new clause 6 says that as a community and as a country we also have to have a better understanding of what is actually going on.

My right hon. Friend and I were just reflecting on how we were in the Home Office in the 2008 to 2010 era, when there again was a big spike in serious violence. We brought everyone together and discussed this with the victims, the perpetrators even, the police and, above all, the local communities affected. We went to them, including on stop-and- search; the stop-and-search we introduced was done on the basis of what those communities found acceptable. That is what we did.

I say to the Minister that I wanted to use this discussion about new clause 6 to say that I do not believe that Parliament discusses serious violence as much as we should. There is a serious violence strategy, but when have we debated it? When has there been a statement? When have we come to this House with the rage and anger that people across this country feel about what is happening? It is bewildering that we are not raging in this place, not biting my hon. Friend’s hand off and saying that we will accept new clause 6 as an indication to the public that we recognise the seriousness of this situation and that we are going to do something about it. I am sick of it. I am sick of turning on the radio when I wake up in the morning and hearing about the latest knife or gun attack. I am sick of families having to meet the police and others to talk to them about their son, as it nearly always is, who has been murdered or stabbed. I am sick of people being terrified by other people carrying weapons. It used to be that this was always in the inner cities, but no longer. New clause 6 gives us a real opportunity to discuss as a Parliament what we as a Parliament we are going to do about it.

Let me finish by asking this: is there a greater national emergency? I know Brexit dominates, but this Parliament should be discussing, almost every week, serious violence and why it is happening. We should be having a huge debate on it. For goodness’ sake, given the number of young people being killed, and the number of knife crimes offences and other offensive weapons crimes that there are, surely we, as a Parliament, need to wake up and debate it with the priority people in this country would expect.