Violent Crime

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 17th 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

It is with great sadness that I stand here today following events over the weekend, including a fatal stabbing in the constituency of Jim Fitzpatrick, fatal stabbings in Tooting and West Ham, and a fatal shooting in Plumstead. Those incidents are subject to police investigations; arrests have been made in some cases, but I know that the House will understand that I cannot go into any more detail on those particular cases at this point.

These events are a stark reminder that serious violence is a continuing threat. There is no single or simple answer, and the police, local authorities, police and crime commissioners and others are working with us, taking action on a number of fronts, locally, regionally and nationally, in the immediate term and in the longer term.

In the immediate term, we continue to support the police response to serious violence. We have made it simpler for the police in those areas most affected to use section 60 no-suspicion stop-and-search powers. The new £100 million serious violence fund is already helping the police in those areas most affected: £65 million has now been allocated and work is under way to deliver the remaining £35 million to support the roll-out and expansion of violence reduction units.

As I think hon. Members acknowledge, however, the root causes of serious violence will take time to tackle. That is why we are focusing so strongly on prevention and early intervention, to stop our young people turning to violence in the first place. We are investing more than £220 million in projects under the youth endowment fund and our early intervention youth fund, and we have run a public consultation on a new legal duty to underpin the multi-agency, or public health, approach to tackling serious violence. We are reviewing the responses and will report as soon as possible.

We also continue to support police co-ordinated action under Operation Sceptre. The latest phase of the operation took place in March and saw almost 11,000 knives taken off the streets. Through our #knifefree media campaign, we have sent new lesson plans to 20,000 teachers in advance of the school summer holidays. Now that the Offensive Weapons Act 2019 has received Royal Assent, we will begin to bring its measures into force, including the piloting of knife crime prevention orders. As the House will know, following the Prime Minister’s serious youth violence summit at the beginning of April, a new ministerial taskforce is driving action right across Government to renew our efforts in tackling serious violence.

We are working closely with police and crime commissioners, including the Mayor of London, the police and other partners to tackle violence and to save lives. We remain determined to protect the public and to stop more lives being taken, but Members will appreciate that there is no short cut to tackling serious violence.