Govt 'not where we need to be' on knife crime

Amnesties among govt knife policies
Amnesties among govt knife policies

A senior Cabinet minister has admitted the government's past stance on knife crime was not working.

Innovation, skills and universities secretary John Denman said "we are not where we need to be" on issues such as knife crime and drunken behaviour.

Mr Denham was speaking after another teenager was killed on the streets. 16-year-old Andrew Holland was stabbed in Greater Manchester on Friday night and later died in hospital.

Two more people died in separate attacks over the weekend, as the death toll from knife attacks in the UK this year continues to rise.

Speaking to BBC News, Mr Denham said the government and public would need to persevere to address the "deep issues" underlying street violence.

He said: "Where there are underlying problems, like the acceptance of gang culture among young people, knife carrying or too-readily-available alcohol to young people, we have got to carry on until we have beaten the problem."

Mr Denham said the government had already brought in "very powerful" new legislation to help police tackle knife crime.

Through the Violent Crime Reduction Act the government is doubling the mandatory sentence for possessing a knife to four years.

Amid local reports that alcohol was involved in Mr Holland's death, Mr Denham said he personally hoped the government would look at the availability of cheap alcohol in the future.

He said he was "very concerned" about the "heavy, heavy promotion" of cheap alcohol.

His comments echoed Cheshire chief constable Peter Fahy, who last week said drink was too strong and too easily available for teenagers, blaming binge drinking for anti-social behaviour.

Shadow home secretary David Davis said knife crime was symptomatic of problems in society.

Mr Davis said: "It took two years for the government to wake up to the massive explosion in knife crime and concede to Conservative calls for an increase in the penalty for carrying knives. But this is not enough.

"Knife crime is just a symptom of the breakdown in society on our streets and the government owes it to the public to take a grip of drink, drugs, and the broken homes that have spawned this plague on modern Britain."

Last week, schools minister Jim Knight was forced to say the introduction of a stab proof schools uniform was "scaremongering" by a company trying to make profits.


Politics @ Lunch

Friday lunchtime. Your Inbox. It's a date.