I am a member of the inter-ministerial group on ending gang violence and exploitation, which meets regularly to discuss the reduction of gang-related crimes such as knife crime. In October, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary announced that a serious violence strategy would be published in the early new year, and I regularly discuss the Crown Prosecution Service’s contributions to that strategy with ministerial colleagues.
The Guardian project, “Beyond the blade”, states that national data on the number of children and teens killed by knives in any given year is not publicly available. Will the Solicitor General explain why?
I would be interested to know more about that, because I am particularly keen to ensure that the reporting and recording of knife crime are improved. We are seeing a rise in the number of reported cases because the police are recording them more accurately, and there is no doubt a problem in certain parts of the country where knife crime is rising, particularly here in London. I would be happy to talk further with the hon. Gentleman to explore a way forward to ensure that we have as much information as possible about this appalling crime.
A question, perchance, of fewer than 20 words? I call Mr Bob Blackman.
I thank my hon. and learned Friend for his answers, but is it not the truth that if we stop people acquiring and carrying knives in the first place, knife crime will cease?
I will try to respond with similar brevity. My hon. Friend is absolutely right to talk about prevention, and we are consulting on further restrictions on the online sale of knives to under-18s, and on tightening up the law on the possession of knives in educational institutions other than schools.
I wish a happy Christmas and a good new year to you and your family, Mr Speaker, and to Members and staff across the House.
Knife crime is still a big problem in Scotland, but of the 35 children and teenagers killed as a result of knife crime in the UK so far this year, none was in Scotland. Does the Solicitor General agree that in his and his Cabinet colleagues’ efforts to reduce knife crime, they would do well to look at the work of Police Scotland’s violence reduction unit, which has helped to oversee a 69% decline in the incidence of handling an offensive weapon in a decade?
We have a long history in the England and Wales jurisdiction of learning lessons from our friends in Scotland, and I would be interested to explore those particular factors further with the hon. Gentleman. I am sure that we can enter into correspondence on that.
Will the Solicitor General explain a little bit more about the steps that the Government are taking to stop children and minors being able to purchase knives and other weapons online?
As I said earlier, a consultation into the tightening up of the criminal law on the sale of knives online has just closed, and the Government will respond as urgently as possible to it because it is quite clear that we need to take as many measures as possible to make it as difficult as possible for young people to carry these lethal weapons.