This weekend two teenagers, Jodie Chesney and Yousef Ghaleb Makki, were stabbed to death. I am sure I speak for the whole House when I express my deepest condolences to their families and their loved ones; two young lives, tragically lost. They are the latest victims in a cycle of senseless violence that is robbing young people of their lives right across this country. There is no hiding from this issue. Serious violence is on the rise. Communities are being torn apart and families are losing their children. Last year, 726 people were murdered in the UK, 285 with a knife or bladed weapon, the highest level since records began.
After the horror of this weekend, I welcome the chance to come to the House and address this issue. We all wish that there was just one thing that we could do to stop the violence, but there are no shortcuts and there is no one single solution. Tackling serious violence requires co-ordinated action on multiple fronts. First, we need a strong law enforcement response. This includes the Offensive Weapons Bill, currently before Parliament, which will introduce new offences to help to tackle knife crime. We also need to give police the confidence to use existing laws, such as stop and search.
Secondly, we must intervene early to stop young people becoming involved in crime. We have amended the Bill to introduce knife crime prevention orders, which will help to prevent young people from carrying knives. Alongside our £200 million youth endowment fund, the £22 million early intervention youth fund has already funded 29 projects endorsed by police and crime commissioners.
Thirdly, we must ensure that the police have the resources to combat serious violence. I am raising police funding to record levels next year—up to £970 million more, including council tax. On Wednesday, I will meet chief constables to listen to their experiences and requirements.
Fourthly, we must be clear on how changing patterns of drug misuse are fuelling the rise in violent crime. I launched the independent drugs misuse review, under Dame Carol Black, in response to that.
Fifthly, we need all parts of the public sector to prioritise tackling serious violence. That is why I will very shortly be launching a consultation on a new statutory public health duty to combat violent crime and to help protect young people.
We must all acknowledge that this is an issue that transcends party lines. Politics can be divisive, but if there was ever an issue to unite our efforts and inspire us to stand together, then surely this is it.