Crime and Antisocial Behaviour: Slade Road, Birmingham

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:43 pm on 11th June 2019.

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Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women 5:43 pm, 11th June 2019

I think we all have to recognise that youth services must develop in line with social mores and the modern ways in which we live. Of course, youth services are the responsibility of local authorities, but through programmes such as the troubled families programme there are different ways of reaching different children and families.

As I say, the point of the endowment fund is to lock in this investment so that the money will be targeted at young people who are at risk of serious violence, either as perpetrators or as victims. We believe that it could really produce some very significant results from the range of projects that we imagine it will fund. It focuses particularly on young people aged 10 to 14. But this is just part of our overall programme across Government, including, for example, work by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, and the other Government Departments I have referred to, as well as the troubled families programme. A range of measures are being conducted to help to impact not just on children’s vulnerability to serious violence but a whole range of other issues.

It is also important that we get the message out that carrying a knife is not normal. We have a campaign called #knifefree, which has been running for some time and has had 6 million views. It sends out the message that it is not normal to carry a knife, that there are alternatives and that help is available if a young person or their carer or parent is worried.

We are conscious of the fact that the summer holidays can, sadly, provide opportunity for criminal activity, so we have arranged for teachers across the country to receive plans for lessons on knife crime and how to avoid carrying a knife, if that is appropriate for their pupils. Again, that will spread the message that it is not normal to carry knives. It will challenge myths and help 11 to 16-year-olds understand the realities of carrying a knife.

Legislation is an important part of the measures to tackle serious violence and antisocial behaviour. The House has just passed the Offensive Weapons Act, to target the sale of knives, corrosive substances and some firearms. We are aware that it cannot be a matter of law enforcement alone. As the hon. Gentleman said, it has to be about working together, with the various agencies taking a collaborative approach. That is why we have run a consultation on a new legal duty to underpin a public health approach to tackling serious violence. We are considering the responses to that consultation very carefully.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his contribution and other colleagues for their contributions. I hope I have provided some reassurance that the Government are determined to tackle antisocial behaviour and crime, while recognising that this must be led at a local level by not only the police but a whole range of local agencies and authorities, to ensure that the wonderful area he described—not confined to Slade Road; he mentioned many places—remains a happy and safe place to live.

We cannot overstate the importance of people feeling safe from crime on their own streets and in their own communities. We believe that through concerted and collaborative action, we can bring the perpetrators to justice, mitigate the impact on other residents and offer young people a real alternative to a life of crime.

Question put and agreed to.

House adjourned.