Knife Crime

Home Department – in the House of Commons at on 26 February 2024.

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Photo of Afzal Khan Afzal Khan Labour, Manchester, Gorton

What steps he is taking to tackle knife crime in Greater Manchester.

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood Conservative, Bournemouth East

What steps he is taking to tackle knife crime in Bournemouth.

Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Minister of State, Home Department

As we have said often in debates this House, knife crime is a terrible crime; it tears families apart and all too often takes young people from us. As the House will know, violent crime overall has reduced by 51% since 2010, but there is more we can do. That includes funding violence reduction units—Manchester’s VRU has £20 million of funding for the coming financial year—and running hotspot policing in areas where serious violence and antisocial behaviour are a problem. The £66 million of funding for that across England and Wales is in addition to the existing police funding settlement.

Photo of Afzal Khan Afzal Khan Labour, Manchester, Gorton

In September 2021, my constituent Rhamero West was chased across Manchester, stabbed and killed—he was just 16. His mum, Kelly, has worked tirelessly to make sure that no other families have to face the suffering she and her family have faced, including by raising money to fund a network of bleed kits across Greater Manchester and a youth project in Fallowfield. She wants to tell Rhamero’s story to help save other young lives, so will the Minister agree to meet her?

Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Minister of State, Home Department

Yes, of course. It sounds as though the hon. Gentleman’s constituent is campaigning bravely, as so many parents do, to try to bring some good out of a terrible personal tragedy, so I would be delighted to meet him and his constituent.

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood Conservative, Bournemouth East

May I quickly put on record my thanks to the Security Minister and the Policing Minister for their efforts in upgrading MPs’ security?

Across the UK, ever more young people are choosing to carry knives. Sadly, that is the case in Bournemouth as well. Violence reduction units are dedicated police units that have a proven track record of reducing knife crime in town centres in other parts of the country, not just through increased policing, but by working in the community, including at schools, to educate youngsters on the dangers of carrying a knife. I am grateful for the increase in police numbers in Dorset, but will the Minister ask the Chancellor to see whether extra funds can be provided specifically for a VRU for Bournemouth?

Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Minister of State, Home Department

I will convey my right hon. Friend’s request to the Chancellor, and I put on record my thanks for his tireless campaigning and that of other Dorset MPs for resources for that county and its police force. Dorset police will receive about £11 million more next year than it received the previous year. Thanks to the campaigning of my right hon. Friend and other Dorset MPs, it also received an exceptional special grant last year of £600,000 to help campaign against violence.

My right hon. Friend is right to say that violence reduction units have a very positive effect. In the next financial year, £55 million will be spent on them for the 20 police force areas judged to have the most significant violence problems. Dorset is not among those 20, but I will pass his message to the Chancellor and I know that through our work with the police and crime commissioner, Dorset police and the PCC will do everything they can to combat knife crime not just in Bournemouth, but in Dorset as a whole.

Photo of Alex Norris Alex Norris Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Policing)

With incidents up by 70% since 2015, the public are looking for leadership on knife crime. Earlier this month, the Government would not support our plan, which includes broadening the ban on zombie knives to include ninja swords; an end-to-end review of online sales; and criminal penalties for tech execs who allow their platform to be used for illicit sales. The Government rejected our plan, but what they have in place simply is not working, so we will push again during the remaining stages of the Criminal Justice Bill. Will they accept it then?

Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Minister of State, Home Department

The shadow Minister should be aware that according to the crime survey of England and Wales —the only reliable long-term indicator for volume crime trends, according to the Office for National Statistics—violent crime is down by 51% since 2010. He asked about online knife sales. He should be aware that when the Online Safety Act 2023 is fully in force, very strong action will be taken, for example against online marketplaces, and the illegal sale of knives online will become a priority offence under schedule 7. He will also know that we are bringing forward legislation to ban a range of machetes and zombie-style knives. We define them in relation to the features they have. For example, knives over 7 inches in length with two cutting edges and serrations will be banned. Those are just some of the measures we are taking, all of which have helped to bring down violent crime by 51% since 2010.