I commend the hon. Lady for her work as chair of the all-party group on knife crime and for securing a debate on the subject last September. I assure her that the Department is committed to making schools as safe as we possibly can, and that is why we are working closely with the Home Office to reinforce the important message that it is totally unacceptable to bring knives into schools.
Knife-carrying in schools is up by 42% across the UK, yet in my constituency, and I expect across the country, at least three quarters of headteachers have had to cut staff, special needs provision and support such as mentoring, which are all crucial in preventing crime. Now that this epidemic has infiltrated our schools, will the Minister admit that school cuts are threatening our children’s safety?
The hon. Lady has heard from the Secretary of State regarding school finance, and all I would add is that the Department is working with the Home Office, and of course other stakeholders—the police, Ofsted, and the Health and Safety Executive—on updating our school security guidance to make clear the risks of carrying knives and to provide advice on dealing with this important issue. It is unacceptable to carry a knife in school.
Will my hon. Friend join me in welcoming the award from the Home Office of £765,000 for the new anti-knife crime community fund, some of which will be spent on delivering knife-crime awareness sessions in schools themselves?
I do welcome the Home Office’s commitment to this, and I hope the Mayor of London will do the same for the schools of the hon. Member for Croydon Central (Sarah Jones) in Croydon.
Youth violence is up and the number of mental health issues among young people is up, yet the number of qualified school nurses is down. The evidence shows that they can be part of how we address the root causes of youth violence. May we have qualified school nurses in every school as one step to tackle this issue?
The hon. Lady knows we are making further investment in mental health in schools to make sure that every school is able to deal with the issue in an appropriate way.