Knives: Crime

Home Office written question – answered on 25th April 2019.

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Photo of Alex Sobel Alex Sobel Labour/Co-operative, Leeds North West

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps his Department is taking to reduce the number of knives carried on the streets in Yorkshire and the Humber.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women

The Government is very concerned about increases in knife crime and its impact on victims, families and communities. The action we are taking is set out in our Serious Violence Strategy and includes new legislation in the Offensive Weapons Bill, raising awareness among young people of the dangers of carrying a knife, supporting local early intervention projects and continuing police action under Operation Sceptre. The latest anti-knife crime week of action under Operation Sceptre took place from 11-18 March.

We are encouraging the police to use stop and search. It is a vital policing tool when used correctly and officers have the Government's full support to use these powers in a targeted way that is fair, lawful and effective. The Home Secretary has announced he is relaxing voluntary best practice guidance around the use of Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, which allows officers to stop and search anyone in a designated area in anticipation of serious violence.

The changes will allow the police to more quickly and effectively use these powers in anticipation of serious violence, safeguarding the public.

We have also listened to the police request that we introduce new Knife Crime Prevention Orders to help them to divert those involved in knife crime away from a violent lifestyle. The Government introduced the new Order in the Offensive Weapons Bill, currently awaiting Royal Assent.

The Offensive Weapons Bill includes specific new knives offences, in par-ticular making it an offence to possess certain offensive weapons in private, and stopping knives being sent to residential addresses after they are bought online unless the seller has arrangements with a delivery company to verify age. These measures are designed to help the police in their re-sponse to knife crime.

In addition to supporting the police on law enforcement, our Serious Vio-lence Strategy stresses the importance of early intervention to tackle the root causes of serious violence and provide young people with the skills and resilience to lead productive lives free from violence. This is why we are providing £22 million to support early intervention and prevention projects through our Early Intervention Youth Fund which is already supporting 29 projects in England and Wales, including the Box Clever project in Humber-side.

We are also supporting a national knife crime media campaign - #knifefree - to raise awareness of the consequences of knife crime. Its initial campaign was launched in March 2018 across England and Wales and activity includ-ed video on demand, street posters, social media, digital audio and video and partner engagement. The latest campaign went live on 1 April 2019.

Last October, the Government also announced a new £200 million Youth Endowment Fund to be delivered over 10 years to support interventions with children and young people at risk of involvement in crime and violence, focusing on those most at risk to steer them away from becoming serious offenders. This is now up and running and the charity Impetus, working in partnership with the Early Intervention Foundation and Social Investment Business, is operating the Fund.

In addition, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in the Spring Statement on 13 March that there will be £100 million additional funding for the police in 2019/20 to tackle serious violence, including £80m of new funding from the Treasury. The majority of the investment will largely go towards supporting police forces most affected by the violence we are see-ing, but the funding will also support Violence Reduction Units, bringing to-gether a range of agencies, including health, education, social services and others, to develop a multi-agency approach to preventing serious violence.

The Prime Minister also hosted the Serious Youth Violence Summit from 1 – 4 April that underlined the whole of Government approach we are taking to tackle this issue. At this summit, the Prime Minister announced she would be chairing a new Ministerial Taskforce, supported by a dedicated Cabinet Office team, to oversee the cross-government programme of ac-tion.

On 1 April, we also launched our consultation on a new legal duty to ensure public bodies take action to prevent serious violence. The consultation will close on 28 May. It explores how a legal duty will support effective multi-agency work. It is open to everyone to respond and can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/serious-violence-new-legal-duty-to-support-multi-agency-action.

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