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Knife Crime: Prosecution Rates

Volume 646: debated on Thursday 6 September 2018

1. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on improving prosecution rates for knife crime. (906696)

We are working closely with other Departments to urgently tackle this issue, which we recognise as a national priority. As a member of the inter-ministerial group on serious violence, we are playing a central role in the delivery of the serious violence strategy, which looks to address violent offending to improve knife crime prosecution rates.

The proportion of people receiving a custodial sentence for knife possession has risen from 40% in 2010 to almost 70% today, yet in the past five years there has been a sustained and shocking increase in knife crime, suggesting that harsher sentences simply are not the answer. Will the Attorney General look at two things: first, some creative alternatives to prison, such as electronic tagging or banning young people from social media if they use it to incite violence; and, secondly, more ways to reduce reoffending through education and rehabilitation to keep young people out of the prison system?

I know that the hon. Lady has a keen local interest in the issue, which affects Croydon as much as other parts of our country. I do not think that there is a direct correlation. We have seen a rise in knife crime since early 2016, and it is right that we have approached the issue of possession in a more serious way. However, I take her points about causation on board. I recently visited the Ben Kinsella Trust in north London, with which I know she is familiar. I am deeply impressed by the trust’s work with young people, and it is that sort of interventionist approach at an early stage that can help to deal with this problem.

What conversations have the Solicitor General or the Attorney General had across Government and with retailers about cutting down on the online sale of knives?

My hon. Friend may be aware that we are working on the new Offensive Weapons Bill, which is going through the House. That Bill includes a measure to make it an offence to deal with knives bought online being sent to residential addresses without appropriate safeguards.

I do apologise to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, but I think that the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North (Gavin Newlands) wishes to come in on Question 1 from the Front Bench.

Thank you very much Mr Speaker; you are forgiven. I welcome the Attorney General to his post, and it is good to see the indefatigable Solicitor General still in his place.

Given the current knife crime epidemic in England and Wales, with rates up by 54% in three years, I know that the Government and the Met have been looking to Scotland, and particularly Glasgow, where hospital admissions for slashes and stab wounds have fallen by 65% in 12 years. Will the Solicitor General update the House regarding what policies and practices enacted in Glasgow will be replicated in London, or in England and Wales more widely, following a delegation visiting Glasgow?

Yes, the hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to raise the excellent Glasgow example. I am making plans to visit Glasgow as soon as possible. Only last month I spoke to the Scottish Law Officers about their experience. I am deeply interested and want to learn more as quickly as possible.