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Violent Crime

Volume 653: debated on Monday 21 January 2019

We launched the serious violence strategy last year; it has culminated in detailed work, stretching across Government. It includes the Offensive Weapons Bill and the serious violence taskforce. In addition, we want to build resilience for young people into the future, so we will be launching a £200 million youth endowment fund to intervene on children and young people at risk of serious violence. Shortly, we will consult on a new duty to underpin the multi-agency approach on public health.

Sussex police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne was recently successful in getting a grant of almost £1 million from the Home Office—I thank the Department for that—to specifically address serious offences among young people. May I have an assurance that Crawley will continue to remain a focus of such support to combat serious offences?

I congratulate police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne; it is always a pleasure to work with her. That was one of 29 projects awarded a total of nearly £18 million from the early intervention youth fund. The project in Crawley helps engage positively with children under 18 at risk of committing serious violence. The project will establish a network of coaches, drawing together the various agencies working with those young people—again, very much underpinning our approach to tackling serious violence: that we should all be concerned about this matter and working together on it.

The Home Office-funded Violence and Vulnerability Unit report of 2018 noted that a reduction in services that offer positive activities to young people, such as youth services and school clubs, has left a vacuum that gangs are moving into. Does the Minister agree that supporting vulnerable young people and protecting them from county lines requires a cross-departmental approach with funding to back it? That has all too often been missing under the austerity agenda.

I am pleased that the hon. Lady recently met my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to discuss this issue. As she will know from the serious violence strategy, the taskforce and our intention to consult shortly on a public health duty, the Government take our work to tackle serious violence very seriously.

Order. The hon. Member for Colchester (Will Quince) was focused intently upon his electronic device, and I am sure he found it thoroughly captivating, but I gently point out to him that he has a question that is not unadjacent to that with which we are dealing now, and that he might care to shoehorn his inquiry into the present.

21. Will the Minister join me in welcoming the £664,000 allocated to Essex from the Home Office early intervention youth fund? Will the Secretary of State keep the situation under review while ensuring that Essex police have the resources required to continue to tackle this issue? (908666)

I am delighted that Essex is one of 29 projects across the country that have received money under the early intervention youth fund. The project in Essex will help to support the violence and vulnerability project. As we know, it is the vulnerability of young people that often places them so starkly in the path of those gangsters who want to exploit them.

After a worrying upward trend in violent crime in Tooting, I held a crime summit that brought together the police, local authorities and community groups. That kind of joined-up, multi-sector working is essential in tackling violent crime. Will the Minister tell me what the Government are doing to ensure that we work with local groups at the heart of the community to stamp out violent crime?

I am delighted that the hon. Lady has taken that approach in her constituency. I have to say that the Government are very much leading on it. I am delighted, for example, that the Mayor of London sits on the taskforce chaired by the Home Secretary. Our approach is that we cannot arrest our way out of this. We want to intervene at an early stage to stop these young people from getting into the clutches of these criminals in the first place.