Knives: Crime

Home Office written question – answered on 18th March 2019.

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Photo of Lord Ouseley Lord Ouseley Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they are giving to the introduction of emergency measures in England and Wales to deal with knife crime.

Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department, Minister for Equalities (Department for International Development)

The Government is already taking a wide range of urgent measures to tack-le knife crime. In April 2018, the Government published the Serious Violence Strategy that set out action being taken to address serious violence and in particular the recent increases in knife crime, gun crime and homicide. This set out 61 commitments that the Government will be is taking forward to tackle violent crime. This includes new legislation in the Offensive Weapons Bill, currently in the House of Lords, strengthening police capability to act against violent crime, and a strong focus on prevention and early intervention to stop more working with young people to encourage them to take up positive activities rather than getting involved in crime, including serious violence. The Bill is also introducing new Knife Crime Prevention Orders.

Alongside the legislative measures in the Bill we are taking forward a number of other actions including a national knife crime media campaign - #knifefree - supporting intervention work in Hospital A&E departments by expanding our support to Redthread to introduce its youth violence intervention work to include in hospitals in Birmingham and Nottingham, as well as in London, to work with young people admitted with knife wounds. In May 2018, we launched a new round of the anti-knife crime Community Fund as part of the Government’s commitment to early intervention and prevention to tackle serious violence. We announced the successful 68 projects in bids on 2 August 2018 with total who are receiving funding of £1.5 million in total, to support grass roots projects focused on prevention and early intervention.

In addition, the Government continues to encourage police forces to undertake a series of coordinated national weeks of action to tackle knife crime under Operation Sceptre. The operation includes targeted stop and searches, weapon sweeps of hotspot areas, test purchases of knives from retailers, and educational events. The week commencing 17 September 2018 marked the most recent week of action under Operation Sceptre, and it is expected that the next phase will take place from 11-17 March.

Last October the Home Secretary announced further measures to address violent crime including a consultation on new legal duty to underpin a ‘public health’ approach to tackling serious violence, a new £200 million youth endowment fund and an Independent review of drug misuse.

We have made significant progress in delivering on our key commitments including:

• a new £22m Early Intervention Youth Fund to support communities for early intervention and prevention with young people;

• a new £3.6m National County Lines Co-ordination Centre to tackle violent and exploitative criminal activity associated with county lines. The NCLCC has co-ordinated two separate weeks of intensive

• law enforcement action which has led to more than 1,000 arrests, over 1300 individuals safeguarded, and significant seizures of weapons and drugs;

• the Offensive Weapons Bill, currently in the House of Lords, is also introducing new Knife Crime Prevention Orders;

• £1.4m to support a new national police capability to tackle gang related activity on social media which will be fully operational later this year;

• established a cross party, cross sector, Serious Violence Taskforce which is chaired by the Home Secretary to oversee and drive this critical programme of work

• We have also agreed a set of commitments with major retailers to prevent the underage sales of knives more generally in their stores and online. The agreement also covers staff training and displays and packag-ing. Tesco, eBay UK, Lidl UK, Amazon UK, Wilko, Argos, Asda, Pound-land, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, John Lewis and Waitrose have all signed up to the principles. They have since been joined by Boots, the Co-op, B&Q, Aldi, TKMaxx and Debenhams. In addition, as part of the Serious Violence Strategy we will support Trading Standards if they decide to prosecute a case in court through a specific prosecution fund

In addition, the following measures are being introduced:

• a new £200 million youth endowment fund. This will be delivered over 10 years and will support interventions with children and young peo-ple at risk of involvement in crime and violence. It will focus on those most at risk, such as those displaying signs such as truancy, aggression and involvement in anti-social behaviour; funding interventions to steer children and young people away from becoming serious offenders. In December 2018, we launched the bidding process to choose an organisation or consortium that will run and administer the fund. The deadline for submissions was 23 January and we are now assessing the bids received; and,

• an Independent review of drug misuse, which is being led by Dame Carol Black. This will ensure law enforcement agencies and policy are targeting and preventing the drug-related causes of violent crime effectively. Drugs have been identified as a major driver of serious violence and this review will look at recreational drug use, as well as considering use by the small number of users who cause the most harm to themselves and their communities.

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