Knife Crime: Who offers the best solution – Conservatives, Labour or Liberals? – Sunday’s Debate

Knife crime; what needs to be done? After Priti Patel’s, the current Home Secretary, recent comments about criminals, we thought Knife crime should be our first article here at Point of Information.

The tragic death of another teenager has become an all too familiar headline in 2019. Many politicians have voiced their concerns about knife crime in London such as David Lammy, who is the MP for Tottenham. He has put himself at the centre of this debate over recent years. In May, he tweeted saying that ‘This is an emergency’.

The statistics produced by the Home Office seem to share Mr. Lammy’s concerns. The BBC reported the Home Office’s findings, noting ‘there were 43,516 knife crime offences in the 12 months ending March 2019….an 80% increase from the low point in the year ending March 2014.’

The House of Commons Briefing Paper worryingly shows that homicides in 2017/18 are higher than all recorded years from 1978-2000, with all reports suggesting this will rise by the end of 2019. In the early 2000’s it did see a spike that rose to the highest point recorded in 2003.

Nevertheless, this is not the most unnerving statistic to stand out. Homicides ‘using a sharp instrument’, are the highest ever recorded, with ‘285 killings…the highest figure since 1946’ the BBC noted when reviewing the House of Commons Briefing Paper.

Gang violence doesn’t seem to be the leading culprit as some news sources may suggest. The UK Justice Policy Review Focus reiterates this especially in the British capital, saying ‘London offences recorded by the Metropolitan police as being “gang-related” are declining in significance’. They even quoted former Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe proposing that ‘gangs are no longer responsible for the majority of knife crime in the capital.’

Written by Max Anderson

an educated course of action, by Liberals

Knife crime has grown at a rapid pace in the last couple of years, reaching a level of major concern. All editors today, I hope, will agree a course of action is needed and Liberals are not the odd ones out.

Why are young people turning to knives?

The UK in recent years has not done enough to help young men and women. Many have been left unsure about their future with a sense of hopelessness and with no hobbies or passions in life. No wonder, when they are left in this state, they become enveloped in knife crime.

Youth clubs and services have seen a colossal reduction in support from the government. The Independent reported, ‘money available to local councils per child has dropped by as much as 52%’ under Conservative government.

There has also been a huge rise in exclusion rates, leaving children out in the cold. The department of education shows exclusion rates rose to ‘381,865’ in 2017. We have to try and keep kids in school and involved in after school activities, keeping them in a positive environment, not giving them the chance to embrace knife crime.

Other members of society see these young men cut out the system and carrying knives. They therefore turn to knives themselves for protection, not out of fear from gangs. From there, when faced with a confrontation, a man will naturally gravitate to brandishing and using a knife all too easily.  

How do we reduce knife crime?

As Liberals, we need to look beyond the statistics and look at the people. Instead of masking the problem with police, we should introduce programs to help young adults avoid turning to knife crime.

Increasing funds to youth camps and offering training programs for young people to get jobs are just a few examples. Listening to what these people have to say is much more important than refusing them the chance to speak.

A model which aims to do exactly this has been tested with great success in Glasgow. A simple act of policy transfer down to London from our Scottish neighbour I think holds the key.

Glasgow introduced Violent Reduction Units (VRU) in 2005 and the Community Initiative to Reduce Crime (CIRV) in 2009 in an attempt to shrug off its infamous name as the ‘murder capital of Europe.’ The VRU creates a channel for communication between the NHS, police and the community while CIRV establishes essential youth clubs and training course for jobs.

When the CIRV and VRU were implemented, the BBC reported a ‘50% reduction in violent offending by those taking part’ and a ‘25% fall in the number of offences’ from gang members who did not take part.

Chuka Umanna’s article in the Independent shows his personal enthusiasm for VRU, proud in the knowledge that VRU and CIRV are ‘being set up across the country.’ Liberals know these programs are the answer. They had instant results in eradicating Glasgow’s gang culture, and once implemented into London, kids will soon no longer feel the need to turn to knives for comfort.

Written by Max Anderson

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Liberals think that young people have lost hope. They are out of touch.

Mr Anderson has clearly taken this debate very seriously and I commend him for trying to address the issue, unlike Labour’s Mr Ingleby who just kicks and screams and has no serious response. However he lets himself down just as the Liberal Democrats always do. He believes he is the not the odd one out, I would beg to differ.

Mr Anderson tries makes the same point as Mr Ingleby by arguing that young adults ‘have been left unsure about their future with a sense of hopelessness and with no hobbies or passions.” What a pathetic and broad claim to make. It is only the Conservatives who have allowed young people to get back to work and into apprenticeships with youth unemployment at only 11%. Under Conservative government more people are going to university including more women. This allows more people to study their passions and help springboard them into new hobbies. So to claim that that the Conservatives are the ones to blame for creating a sense of hopelessness is distasteful at best.

Mr Anderson’s overall response is to just throw money at the problem and this will not work. What has worked and has been statistically proven to work is Stop and Search. I do agree with Mr Anderson that keeping children in school is a key point and this with the added combination of increased Stop and Search, should hopefully put us back on the right track.

Written by Jack Kane.

Well thought out, but unwilling to confront policing – a Labour response

I am pleased to see that there is still some potential for consensus in our current political climate, as I praise Mr Anderson for his thoughtful and measured response.

The importance of re-establishing trust between various branches of local communities is stressed in the above piece, and the CIRV and VRU schemes seem prudent and plausible. I also acknowledge Mr Anderson’s observation that youth services have been criminally underfunded under Conservative administrations, and I am sure he will agree that cutting essential support to our nation’s young people is baffling and blatantly counterintuitive to their claim of being the true party of the people.

However, Mr Anderson seems to have omitted from his piece the role policing has played in this crisis – it is not purely a matter of local funding. Regressive strategies such as Stop and Search and the gangs matrix have been hugely divisive, and a complete rethink of the way police interact with youths is needed and must be addressed.

Written by Max Ingleby

It is time to take back control over knife crime.

Death, sorrow, and anger. All the consequences of vicious and abhorrent knife crime. The issue has recently come back into the headlines due to a significant rise in attacks, with each party claiming their way of combating knife crime is the best. Although there is no true right answer, it is clear that a Conservative approach is the best course of action.

Boris Johnson, in his first commons statement as Prime Minister, said that he would pursue an enhanced Stop and Search agenda. This is controversial with many ethnic groups likely to be searched more than a white British individual and is a sad truth, but knife crime must be addressed. There is clear evidence to show that Stop and Search has saved lives. The BBC even quoted that: “The number of knife-related homicides went from 272 in 2007 to 186 in 2015. ” Conservative governance!

When Johnson was Mayor of London, serious youth violence was reduced by 32% as well as the murder rate falling by 50%, with fewer than 100 murders each year. Conservative governance!

There is a clear link between the rise of knife crime in London and the arrival of Sadiq Khan as London Mayor. In his election campaign, he promised to cut the use of Stop and Search. This in turn has caused knife crime to rise to its highest rate since 1946. Likewise, the BBC reports that “there were 43,516 knife crime offences in the 12 months ending March 2019. This is an 80% increase from the low-point in the year ending March 2014, when there were 23,945 offences.” If this isn’t a clear link, then I don’t know what is.

I believe that Stop and Search acts as a deterrent. If someone is unsure about carrying a knife, it is far more likely that they will decide not to carry one if Stop and Searches are more commonly used. Without the idea of Stop and Search being pro-active it is more likely that people will carry knifes.

Stop and Search is not perfect. People from ethnic backgrounds are far more likely to be searched and that is a serious problem. Yet do not blame Stop and Search for knife crime when it is trying to solve the problems caused by other issues. The Conservatives have a stronger and better track record than Labour, and with its polices it will continue to do so.

Written by Jack Kane

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Conservatives again prove that they are the party of the few – a Labour response

Mr Kane’s misleading use of figures to try and dump the government’s dirty laundry in Sadiq Khan’s lap is laughable. May I remind him that the 80% rise applies to the whole country (not just London) which last I checked was under Conservative governance throughout the cited rise of knife crime.

The famous ‘laissez-faire’ attitude has been applied once again to the civil rights of BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) individuals, something Mr Kane and his party are willing to steamroll in order to achieve some short term arrest statistics. I find his nonchalance shocking, and clearly emblematic of the Conservative party’s historic advocacy for those in comfortable positions of wealth and stability.

It is juvenile to ward off all criticism of Stop and Search simply because it is ‘trying’ to solve knife crime. Conservatives need to stop and think of the long term effects of their dangerous policies before the real victims, families and young people in deprived communities, feel the brunt of the damage.

Written by Max Ingleby

Mr Kane forgets about Nick Clegg and his beloved ‘compassionate conservatism’ – a Liberal response

Mr Kane’s article is a struggle and a slog to read. This is not only because the cry of ‘Conservative governance’ seems to conclude every paragraph, but because I find myself baffled by his own deluded beliefs about the efficiency of the Conservative party, as well as an undignified attack on the Labour party. Mr Kane is simply acting like a wild animal trapped in a corner, lashing out at anything he can to defend his precious Conservatives.

He firstly praises the Conservative’s reign between 2010 and 2015. I would like to remind Mr Kane this was a coalition, shared with Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats. A thought I think he would rather forget. But if this is true, they must also take the blame. The rise in knife crime has increased drastically since the Liberal Democrats left office in 2015. Using Mr Kane’s theory, blame should be put solely on the Conservatives for the rise in knife crime and their cuts to education funding. To then take aim at Sadiq Khan seems a bit overzealous. Knife crime has risen across the country, not just in London it must be remembered.

I also worry for Mr Kane’s over reliance on Stop and Searches. I know they have proven to be effective, but they only mask the problem; they don’t actually fix the issues. You are also treating members of the public like criminals. It is well known that if you treat someone like a criminal, they will become one. I caution you to remember this Mr Kane. I feel your love for David Cameron and the Conservatives has blinded you from realising the true causes of this epidemic.  

Written by Max Anderson

A Labour reaction to the crisis

A frighteningly virile pandemic is ravaging the country, from the streets of London to small villages on the outskirts of Manchester, the victims in the papers seemingly dying younger and younger with each coming week. I am of course talking of knife crime. A deeply complex issue, there is no one answer to magically resolve it, but a large finger of blame points clearly at the Conservatives’ policies of austerity and divisive policing strategies.

To start with, Theresa May’s stints as both Home Secretary and Prime Minister have overseen a fall in police numbers by approximately 20,000 nationwide according to BBC figures, and the ensuing struggle to effectively police the country’s streets is transparently correlative. Along with callous cuts to essential youth services in some of the most deprived areas of the country, it is plain to see that the young people of the United Kingdom have been abandoned. 

Regressive and harmful police tactics only exacerbate matters, in fact a 2018 report found that Stop and Search increased the likelihood of local crime. Thousands of essential police officers, experienced and with close links to their communities, have not been replaced, and in the meantime Stop and Search has been pursued with little success. The repulsive stain of racism has long sullied the police’s reputation, and their Stop and Search statistics are damning: in 2018, the Guardian reported that black people were nine times more likely to get stopped than their white neighbors. 

Young people, especially in BAME communities, have received oppressive scrutiny from police instead of the life-changing support from local councils that they so desperately need. Harassed and searched regularly, sometimes multiple times a day, many are registered in the controversial Gangs Matrix, a database of suspected gang members (as of 2017, over three quarters of people registered were black), a further apparatus of control and prejudice.

No wonder these youths feel the need to carry a dangerous weapon; they are desperate and paranoid after being let down on all fronts by our despondently neglectful government.

Boris Johnson, in his recent statements as our new Prime Minister, has pledged to ramp up the usage of Stop and Search to combat the rising knife crime crisis. This is not the answer – we must rebuild our community and education services with some well placed increases in public funding to support those in deprived areas. Yes, Johnson’s promised increase of 20,000 officers is welcome, but we need police to reach out a hand to those trapped in a cycle of crime, not deepen the already chasmic rift they have created between them and young, at risk, men.   

Written by Max Ingleby

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All accusation, no answers? A Liberal response

After reading Mr Ingleby’s article, I must say I felt myself drifting back and forward between admiration and disappointment for his piece.

I would like to congratulate him on briefly noticing the importance of youth clubs and the cuts the government have made against them. I also applaud him for going into grave detail about the importance of having a good link between the community and the police, noticing that stop and searches are counterintuitive.

But, as I said, my admiration was short lived. I am somewhat surprised with his brief agreement with Boris Johnson. But this is only the side note of my displeasure due to a lack of options to replace stop and searches. I agree that increasing them is not the key to stopping knife crime, but I somewhat at a loss as to how to replace them. I must grudgingly admit they are effective at fighting knife crime, but I think for the wrong reasons. Only my article seems to offer a viable solution.

I agree with almost every word Mr Ingleby has spoken but I must admit I had hoped for answers, not accusations.

Written by Max Anderson.

Same old labour as Labour does not work.

May I applaud Mr Ingleby in agreeing with the new Prime Minister’s policy to put 20,000 more police officers on the street. It is clear that making him agree with the Conservatives was far easier than expected and long may that continue. With the arrival of new police officers and the increased use of Stop and Search, crime rates will fall. This has been statistically proven and the party of law and order has proven this. I freely admit that Stop and Search has targeted minorities, however this figure is declining and must and will continue to do so under Conservative leadership.

We then get to the point where Mr Ingleby argues that the young people of today have been cheated and abandoned. I find this extremely hypocritical coming from the party that crippled our economy resulting in youth unemployment sky-rocketing to over 20%. Youth unemployment is now down to 11% nearly as low as the 1989 record of 9.7%, and yet he neglects to mention that. So, with more jobs available, increased wages and enhanced job security, it is far less likely for young people to carry knifes. It is clear that the Conservatives have no intention to abandon young people.

Finally he calls the current government neglectful. How can we trust this when the Labour London Mayor promises to decrease the use of Stop and Search and then reverses his decision once getting into office. This is same old labour where Labour isn’t working.

Written by Jack Kane.

 

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