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Gang and Youth Violence

Volume 558: debated on Monday 11 February 2013

On 27 November, the Government published our “Ending Gang and Youth Violence Report: One Year On”, setting out achievements and further commitments. Over the past year practical support has been provided to 29 local areas. Support for four more areas was announced in December.

My constituent, Lorraine Fraser, has long campaigned against gang violence after tragically losing her son in an unprovoked attack. She has spent considerable time with young people, warning them of the consequences of being involved in gangs. What action is the Department taking to improve such intervention in our schools to tackle gang violence?

I give my sincere commiserations to Lorraine Fraser. It must have been an extremely harrowing ordeal for her. It reminds me of a case in my constituency shortly after I was elected in 2005, when a young man called Lloyd Fouracre was murdered. His brother, Adam, was extremely energetic in promoting safety among young people in schools and elsewhere. I commend the work of the hon. Gentleman’s constituent and of mine. Our work on ending gang and youth violence includes elements of programmes in schools, and I commend that type of work right across the country.

A few weeks ago in my constituency, there was an horrific incident when a totally innocent shopkeeper was attacked by an individual wielding a nine-inch kitchen knife. It subsequently transpired that that person had mental health problems. My chief constable tells me that violence is increasingly perpetrated by people with mental health problems. What is the Minister doing with his colleagues in the Department of Health to tackle this increasing danger to people in our communities?

I am very sorry to hear about that appalling case. I again pass my commiserations to everybody involved. We try across Government—with the Department of Health in this case—to ensure that policy is effective in combining all the elements needed to reduce criminality. Although it is no consolation to the family in this case, it might help the House to know that, according to the crime survey for England and Wales, in the year to June 2012 there was a 14% reduction in homicides, a 9% reduction in violent incidents involving knives or sharp instruments, and an 18% reduction in gun crime. It might not be much consolation to victims of crime, but, overall, violent crime in this country is falling.