It is near impossible to live in London and not notice the seemingly never-ending news reports and images of heartbroken parents.
This is a trend that we are seeing replicated across the country – there were nearly 2,000 more incidents of crimes involving sharp implements in 2022/23 compared with the previous year and since 2015, knife crime is up a terrifying 72%.
I have spoken to far too many people in my constituency who are fearful about this.
This is something that I have raised with Government ministers in Parliament many times over the years. Most recently, I have been raising the increased crime levels in Kilburn at Home Office Questions.
Frankly, I believe that the Government’s response to my warnings has been inadequate.
The serious violence strategy is more than five years out of date, the serious violence taskforce has been disbanded, and in my view too little is being done to keep young people out of the world of violence and crime.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has promised a three-year initiative, dedicating £15 million a year to helping young people stay away from involvement in crime and violence.
This is fantastic, but the truth is we need a national Government that is just as focused and prepared to take necessary steps to crack down on this frightening form of crime.
If Labour gets into Government after the next election, we have a plan ready to be implemented from day one.
This would involve introducing a new Young Futures Programme, establishing a national network of youth hubs with both mental health and youth workers available. This would bring local services, from community safety officers to social services, together to develop a target programme in every area to identify the young people most at risk of getting involved in violent crime.
These partnerships would map the provision of existing services and draw up child community safety plans – building a package of support that responds to the challenges that these at-risk children are facing.
The result of this would be a co-ordinated delivery of preventative interventions, built around the young person in question.
No young person starts life wanting to be involved in violent crime. I’m determined to ensure that as many as possible don’t have to be.
- Tulip Siddiq is Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn.