Just some of the actions we are taking to tackle knife crime include: strengthening the law through the Offensive Weapons Act 2019; establishing the national county lines co-ordination centre; consulting on a new duty to support a multi-agency public health approach; launching the £100 million serious violence fund in the spring statement; and providing new lesson plans to schools as part of our #knifefree campaign. We take careful note of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner’s recent comments about knife crime levelling off, and I am sure we all support the police’s efforts to tackle this.
I thank the Minister for her answer, but there were 18,000 assaults and 17,000 robberies involving a knife or a sharp object in the year ending 2018. The Government have cut police officer numbers by 21,000, and two weeks ago there was a murder in Tower Hamlets due to a knife attack. Does she agree that the Home Secretary is not fit to be the next Prime Minister, considering that he has lost control of law and order in his Department?
I have to say that I think this is such a serious subject—I understand the hon. Lady’s comments about her constituency—but I do not think this is the appropriate forum to make those sorts of comments. What I do know is that the Government, working with the police, local authorities, the medical profession and educationalists, are doing everything we can not just to tackle the causes of knife crime through law enforcement efforts but to intervene early to stop young people from carrying knives before they take that terrible step, which can affect not only their lives but other families and communities.
The hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Nick Smith) is welcome to shoehorn his inquiry, Question 16, conveniently into Question 14, if he so wishes, but it is not obligatory.
I am very happy to look into that. The hon. Gentleman will know that, through the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, there are six powers available to the police and to local authorities and agencies to tackle, in a flexible way, the terrible crimes that can be occasioned by antisocial behaviour.
Piggybacking on the shoehorn, so to speak, farmers are often victims of rural crime, antisocial behaviour, fly-tipping and the theft of farm machinery. What more is going to be done to help to tackle rural crime?
As the proud Member of Parliament for one of the most rural constituencies in England, I know only too well the trouble that farmers and landowners can have with antisocial behaviour, including, for example, hare coursing. A range of powers is available to the police, depending on the type of criminality involved. I am very happy to involve my hon. Friend in the discussions we are currently having to see what more we can do to tackle hare coursing in particular.