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Knife Crime and Serious Violence

Volume 719: debated on Monday 5 September 2022

The Government take a dual approach, combining tough enforcement with programmes that steer young people away from crime. Since 2019, we have invested £170 million in the areas worst affected by violence to boost the police response. In those same areas, we have also invested another £170 million to develop violence reduction units, to tackle the root causes of violence. Those programmes have prevented 49,000 violent offences in their first two years.

Over the summer we had two very high-profile knife attacks in Ipswich. We know that this is inter-gang violence—it is often members of each gang who are targeted—but it often erupts in a public space and has a chilling effect within communities. I am pleased that we have secured extra funding from the safer streets fund and that we are getting our uplift to the 20,000, but does the Minister agree that our UK shared prosperity fund bid to get even more police presence during the day would help to tackle knife crime? Does he also agree that it is right that we look at the national police funding formula in order to provide long-term fairer funding for Suffolk police?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who pays laser-like attention to crime and policing issues in his area. He was at the forefront of arguing the case for the safer streets bid, which has, fortunately, been successful. It is very welcome that his area is seeing £8.9 million of additional police funding and we have seen 114 extra officers recruited. Building on the work that is already happening, those resources will come together to help to continue to drive down crime in his area. That is a priority for this Government, as it is for him, and I know he will continue to follow this closely.

Last February, a constituent of mine, a young man, was attacked in the street by a man wielding a machete. There have been a number of further incidents since then, including last month on the streets of Leeds, where video shows two gangs squaring up to each other and holding these weapons. Why on earth is it still legal for anyone over the age of 18 to go into a shop and buy a machete?

I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his question. It is important to note that since 2019 we have seen 72,000 weapons taken off our streets, but we cannot be complacent on this, which is why Ministers are looking at this issue of serious weapons, with a serious weapons review. I will want to see its conclusions as quickly as possible, but he can be absolutely assured that our drive and determination is to get these weapons off our streets wherever possible. It is not acceptable to have any life lost to crime in this way.

Deterrence is more important than almost anything else, and the Minister knows well of the tragic case in my constituency of Ellie Gould, who was murdered by a knife-wielding boyfriend. People there are rightly of the view that we must find ways of improving and increasing the sentences for knife murder if we can. So what discussions has he had with his colleagues in the Ministry of Justice, who are currently looking at guidelines for sentencing? When can we expect the results of that consultation to come out?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his question. We do have Ministers who are joint between the Home Office and the MOJ, which means that we have been able to look at some of these issues in the round. What I hope can give him some reassurance is the fact that, through serious violence reduction orders, which we are introducing through the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022, we are seeing a greater likelihood of people being caught, of being before the court and of receiving a custodial sentence. I think the whole House can welcome that.

It was alarming enough to find out that foreign intelligence played a role in the trafficking of Shamima Begum and other British children to ISIS, but to find out that our Government were aware of this is incredibly disturbing and raises questions on the decision to revoke her citizenship. So will the Home Secretary tell us exactly when—

I know. That is why you cannot ask the question. In which case, I will now call the shadow Minister, Sarah Jones.

The current Home Secretary says that her “record…speaks volumes”. On her watch, far more people are a victim of crime, far more criminals are getting away with it, nine in 10 serious violent offenders never see the inside of a court, police officers are forced to use food banks, and the police have declared no confidence. What does the Minister think the Home Secretary is most proud of: criminals laughing in our face as they get away with it, or thousands more people across this country blighted by crime?

I think it is fair to say that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, who I believe has done a sterling job in the role, can be proud of seeing burglary down by 24% nationally, neighbourhood crime down by 33% and vehicle offences down by 28%. We have got 72,000 weapons off our streets since 2019. Leicester, which I visited a couple of weeks ago, has a hugely successful violence reduction unit that is driving down criminality, steering young people away from that course. Some 49,000 offences have been prevented nationally, with a return that means that in the round we are seeing benefits to society: violent crime is not happening, because it has been prevented by the work that my right hon. Friend has done.