Knife Crime

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:49 pm on 4th March 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Louise Haigh Louise Haigh Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Policing) 3:49 pm, 4th March 2019

Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for granting today’s urgent question. I thank the Home Secretary for making time to respond to it.

Today, the House is united in grief and shock at the tragic toll of the past couple of weeks, adding to the hundreds of children murdered in our communities over the past year. In Birmingham, over the space of just 12 days, three teenage boys have lost their lives: Sidali Mohamed and Abdullah Mohammad, both 16 years old; and student Hazrat Umar, 18 years old. On Friday, Jodie Chesney was killed in a knife attack in an east London park as she played music with her friends. She was 17. Yousef Makki was stabbed to death in a village near Altrincham. He was 17. It adds to a 93% rise in the number of young people being stabbed since 2012.

These senseless murders are a national tragedy that must cause us to reflect on how the promise that these young boys and girls represent could so senselessly be extinguished. But it must also be a cause for action. One life lost in an act of violence is one too many; one mother who will never see her son or daughter again is one too many. This is a national crisis, and it requires national leadership from the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary to provide whatever support is necessary to help the police investigate and fight this outbreak, and to provide communities and services with whatever resources are necessary to protect our increasingly vulnerable young people.

May I put the following questions to the Home Secretary? Back in 2000, the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, took the decision to activate the emergency Cobra committee and set a target for bringing violent street crime, which was then at a peak, under control. We need to see similar leadership today from our Prime Minister. Will she step up and convene a crisis summit backed with emergency funding? Will the Home Secretary confirm that that will take place this week? If not, why not?

Underpinning the cross-Government effort the Home Secretary mentioned has to be a public health approach to tackle the root causes of violence. This was something we thought the Government favoured too, encompassing youth services, school exclusions, housing, social services, mental health and health as a whole. It was therefore shocking to hear the comments from the Health Secretary on LBC this morning, when he did not appear to know that this was the approach adopted by his Government and criticised the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, for using public health terminology. Will the Home Secretary confirm whether the public health approach to tackling knife crime has been discussed at Cabinet, what action has been agreed as a result of this cross-governmental approach, and how the Department of Health and Social Care is supporting it? He has further committed to legislation to underpin the public health approach; when exactly will that be brought forward?

Finally, we cannot pretend that the cuts to policing have not made our country less safe. Sadly, the Prime Minister and other members of her Cabinet continue to deny this crucial link. In the coming weeks, police will have the heavy responsibility of running investigations into young lives lost and bringing perpetrators to justice. The funding settlement that we voted on last month is completely inadequate to allow them to do that, especially for the forces hardest hit by violent crime. Will he urgently review the funding settlement to ensure that the forces that have seen the biggest increases in violent crime are given whatever they need to fight this outbreak?

This country is facing a crisis. It is time for leadership from our Prime Minister and our Home Secretary, for clear action and a united vision from all arms of Government, and for emergency funding for the police and prevention programmes to keep our children safe. Warm words are no longer enough.