Knife Crime

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:44 am on 7th March 2019.

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Photo of Diane Abbott Diane Abbott Shadow Home Secretary 10:44 am, 7th March 2019

We have had several days of newspaper headlines on knife crime, but does the Minister accept that for families and communities up and down the country this is not just a few days of newspaper stories; this is their lives? It is every mother’s worst nightmare: they say goodbye to their son in the morning and the next call they get is from the emergency services telling them their child is the victim of violent crime.

On police numbers, does the Minister accept that it is a question not just of police officers on patrol, but of community policing, safer school partnerships and police officers working with our diverse communities? Does she agree with the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Cressida Dick, who says there is a clear correlation between the fall in police numbers and the rise in violent crime, including knife crime, or does she agree with her Prime Minister, who denies any such correlation? Does she agree with the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, who said of the Prime Minister:

“I don’t think she listens, quite frankly, to what she’s being told”?

Does the Minister accept that many people will find the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s suggestion that the police only have to move resources from other areas to fight knife crime, monstrous and an insult to grieving families? The police are under pressure in nearly every area. Our constituents know this from the delays in responding to 999 calls—not just a few hours, but sometimes the next day—and they know when they ring up to say they have seen people selling drugs or other criminality on the street that the police do not have the resources to respond. We need more resources for the police, and we need them now.

Yesterday, the Home Secretary met police chiefs from seven forces and others. Since 2010, Tory Governments have cut more than 9,000 officers from those forces alone. Did the Home Secretary apologise to them? Did he offer them extra resources? Is the Minister able to tell us?

In 2009, the Home Affairs Committee published a comprehensive appraisal of what needs to be done to fight knife crime. We know about the success of what has been done in Glasgow. Does the Minister accept that what frightened communities, families and mothers need is not more hand-wringing, not more summits, not more committees, and not more reviews? They want the Government to put the necessary resources into the youth service, into work with excluded children, into strengthening mental health services for young people and adolescents, and, above all, into the police service. Only then will the public believe that the Government are taking the knife crime epidemic seriously.