Thirty six stabbings this year alone might suggest that knife crime is just a London problem. The reality however is that knife crime is a national problem with recorded knife crime in the Northumbria Police area also up. As a Home Office Minister I learned we have to deal with surges in knife crime but also to tackle the issue long term. Unfortunately neither seems to be happening at present.
The Government’s recently announced Serious Violence Strategy risks falling short. The £40 million promised is not new money and does not address the problem of police cuts. It stands to reason that if you cut 900 officers as has happened in Northumbria Police you cannot have enough frontline officers to engender trust, gather information and provide a reassuring presence. Neither can you guarantee enough officers to set up specialist teams where needed.
We need to move beyond laissez faire policing and bring police forces together to learn lessons from the best performers. Government has the power to introduce stronger laws if necessary and to take on social media and retailers who may be part of the problem.
We need a responsible debate about how public services share information about people at risk, including schools and the NHS. We need to accept that taking resources out of communities sometimes starves groups trying to keep young people out of trouble. There are no simple answers but much more can be done.