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Knife Crime

Volume 686: debated on Monday 14 December 2020

We are surging police capacity in the forces most affected by violent crime. We have just consulted on serious violence reduction orders, which would make it easier for the police to stop and search individuals previously convicted of knife crime. We are also investing millions in early intervention to stop young people being drawn into violence in the first place.

In Warwickshire, knife crime has risen by 300% since 2014. Just this year, on 15 January in Leamington Spa, we had one murder and one attempted murder—both stabbings. On 28 May, we had one murder—a stabbing. On 12 November, we had a stabbing, with serious injuries. The Government claim that we have as many officers as we did in 2010. We do not. We are about to lose 125 posts in Warwickshire—police, intelligence officers—so does the Minister understand why the public no longer trust the Government with law and order?

The hon. Gentleman is rightly concerned about knife crime in his constituency, as am I. While he again seeks to make a connection between police numbers and the level of crime—an argument that was made endlessly before the election—I point out, as somebody who paid a leading role in the battle against the last surge in knife crime, between 2008 and 2012, when police officer numbers were at an all-time high, particularly in London, that the connection is not direct. However, there is much more that we can and will do on knife crime. Although absent the covid effect on crime, we are seeing some signs of a turn in the current surge in knife crime, there is still much more to do in his constituency, as there is across the country.

I acknowledge the work that the Minister did while he was working for the Mayor of London to tackle knife crime, reducing numbers, but also in the last year, with a welcome reduction of 19% in knife crime offences. Of course there is more to do. Every life lost is a life wasted and a family ruined, and we must do more. I was very supportive of the introduction of knife crime prevention orders, and I would be grateful if the Minister could tell me how many orders have been issued since the trials were rolled out this spring.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his concern about this issue, which affects his constituency as it does many others, and he is right to raise it. Unfortunately, the introduction of knife crime prevention orders, which were scheduled to come in in London, has not yet happened, largely because of the impact of the covid pandemic and the absorption of capacity. However, there has been very significant activity on this issue, not least three weeks ago with a national week of intensification of Operation Sceptre, the anti-knife crime operation, which saw 2,005 arrests and well over 10,000 knives taken off the streets in the space of one week. That is an indication of the scale of the problem to which we are addressing ourselves with some urgency.,