APCC Chair, Mark Burns-Williamson OBE, comments on the Home Secretary’s announcement regarding new police powers to tackle knife crime:
We are seeing a significant rise in serious violence, often gang-related, with too many children and young people being the victims of stabbings and, on too many occasions, losing their lives. We are often now witnessing the detrimental impact on communities with the exploitation of young people, in many cases by organised criminal groups.
I welcome the amendments to the Offensive Weapons Bill announced by the Home Secretary, today (31 Jan). Any measures that prevent the carrying of knives as a weapon, including tougher law enforcement against unscrupulous retailers who are knowingly in effect arming our children with a dangerous weapon, has to be deterred. I also fully support the new Knife Crime Prevention Orders, where those found carrying knives can be made subject to conditions limiting their ability to commit knife crime, which we know can be devastating.
However, legislation alone will not stop the rising tide of serious violence and we must focus our efforts on prevention and early intervention, addressing the reasons why children and young people are carrying and using knives in our communities. We need a whole-system approach, ensuring we have adequate youth services to help stem the alarming rate children are being permanently excluded from mainstream education. These children are then vulnerable to being exploited and recruited by drug gangs and exposed by others to the criminal practice of carrying and using knives which then only leads to more serious crimes and devastating outcomes and poor life chances for those involved.