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

Part of Offensive Weapons Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:45 pm on 28th November 2018.

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Photo of Sarah Jones Sarah Jones Shadow Minister (Housing, Communities and Local Government) (Housing) 5:45 pm, 28th November 2018

I rise to speak in support of new clause 6. I was pleased to serve on the Public Bill Committee, and I am glad to see the Bill finally coming back to the Floor of the House. My hon. Friend Vernon Coaker spoke passionately about why new clause 6 is so important. Simply put, it says that the Secretary of State must lay a report before Parliament on the causes of youth violence with offensive weapons. We are trying to fix a problem, and we have to understand what that problem is before we can fix it.

I want to make two points. The first is about data. We do not know where the people who commit these offences get their knives from. We do not know at what exact time of day these knife crimes are committed, although we have some evidence. We do not know how many people are involved in gangs who commit knife offences. That is really important, because a very small number—somewhere between 3% and 25%, depending on what we measure—of people who commit knife offences are in gangs. There is a lot that we do not understand about what is going on in this situation that we are trying to fix.

The second important part of the new clause relates to evidence. There is a growing consensus that there is an epidemic of violence—the Secretary of State has said it, and the Minister said it today. It is spreading out across the country. Violence breeds violence. There is evidence that can fix this growing national problem. We know from what has worked in other areas how effective interventions can be when they are evidence-based. I think of my friend, Tessa Jowell, whose memorial service you and I attended recently, Mr Speaker. Her interventions in introducing Sure Start and the teenage pregnancy reduction strategy were evidence-based and had a real impact. That is what we need to seek to do.

My final point is that when we look at the evidence, we need to look at the increasing number of children who are being excluded and finding themselves lost to the system. If we are trying to fix this national problem, why on earth would anyone want to vote against this new clause?