My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Policing, Crime & Security (David Hanson) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
This week marks the end of phase two of the Tackling Knives and Serious Youth Violence Action Programme (TKAP). Over the past 12 months, we have targeted nearly £7 million of funding on 15 high priority areas and the British Transport Police in order to reduce serious youth violence.
Last week’s deaths of two young people in London was a stark reminder, if one were needed, of the need for our continued action in this area. We are committed to reducing serious youth violence to make sure that no families face the devastation that these young people’s families are suffering.
We are focused on tougher enforcement, tougher sentences and new legislation to tackle violent crime and gangs. We increased the starting tariff for a life sentence for adults committing murder using a knife or other weapon taken to the scene to a minimum 25 years in prison.
We will publish detailed results from the programme in the summer, but across England and Wales as a whole the picture is encouraging. Recorded crime statistics show that in the period April to September 2009 covering the first six months of phase two of TKAP, there was a 7 per cent fall in recorded knife crime, compared with the same period the previous year including a 34 per cent fall in homicide with a knife/sharp instrument (100 homicides involving a knife/sharp instrument in April to September 2009 and 152 in April to September 2008). These statistics build on annual figures for 2008-09 which saw a 7 per cent drop in knife/sharp instrument homicides, compared with 2007-08.
Over 100 hospitals are now sharing A&E data with local police and Community Safety Partnerships in England and Wales, to enable targeted local enforcement and other activities to reduce violence. The Home Office has provided £300,000 to 8 TKAP police forces for 9 Portcullis Operations, an intensive enforcement and prevention tactic.
Increased police activity has led to 736 arrests, 23 knives and one shotgun being recovered, and over 20,000 people passing through knife arches. In addition, street-based teams have worked with over 1,500 young people.
But preventing serious violence is about more than tough enforcement, it is also about prevention, there have been over 22,000 After School patrols in TKAP areas over the same period, engaging with over 67,000 young people and signposting over 13,000 young people to positive activities.
Where young people have been involved in knife crime, we have worked hard to ensure that they receive appropriate education and rehabilitation to teach them about the dangers of knives. The Youth Justice Board rolled out the Knife Crime Prevention Programme to all 97 Youth Offending Teams in the 15 TKAP areas with the aim of reaching 2,000 young people cautioned or convicted of knife crime in the TKAP areas by the end of 2010 to bring home to them the consequences of carrying a knife.
All of this activity to tackle serious youth violence will not stop at the end of TKAP 2. A third phase of TKAP begins on 1 April 2010 aiming to continue our work to keep young people safe. TKAP 3 will make £5.5 million of government funding available to local TKAP areas: £4 million to local Community Safety Partnerships; on top of £1.5 million already announced for 150 local voluntary organisations receiving help from the Home Office Community Fund. In 2010-11, we will focus the TKAP programme on 52 Community Safety Partnerships within 21 police forces plus British Transport Police which will receive TKAP funding and support. Agencies in these local areas know that serious youth violence matters to their communities and they want to do all they can to prevent and reduce it.