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 Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women 10:44 am, 7th March 2019

I take the right hon. Lady’s point about meetings and summits and so on. As she knows, the way in which we get things moving in Whitehall and then across local government and local areas is through drawing everybody together into rooms. We have been working on this day in, day out since the serious violence strategy was launched. We are already funding 29 projects through the early intervention youth fund and working with police and crime commissioners to reach those young people who need help. We have already funded many programmes through the anti-knife crime community fund, which involves smaller projects, and I hope that many Members of Parliament will have received letters from me about the projects in their constituencies that have benefited from it. We have a media campaign called #knifefree, which we in this place are probably not aware of because frankly we are not the people that the campaign is targeting. It is targeting young people in a very direct way on social media, through catch-up television and elsewhere, and it is supporting the message that it is not normal for people to carry knives.

I want to put out this plea: there is more that we as a society can do to press this message home. I am due to meet representatives of the Premier League to ask whether they can encourage their football legends to do even more as role models to get the message out there that carrying a knife is not normal, that people do not have to do it, and that if they do, they are putting themselves at enormous risk. There is a great deal more that we as a society can do to get that message out there to young people about carrying knives, but there is also a huge amount of work going on involving police officers. We have weeks of intensive activity in which police forces across the country make tackling knife crime the priority for that week. I went to an operational briefing on Friday where the plans for the following week were being laid out. Those weeks have extraordinary rates of success: in the last one, 9,000 knives were taken off the streets of our country. The more of these surge operations we can have, the greater benefit there will be in the immediate term on this very complex issue.