It is time to end the terrible toll of violence on Britain's streets

04 Apr 2018
Tackling youth violence requires more than a knee-jerk response, writes Diane Abbott

The Tories have been in denial about the rise in serious crime. But the terrible death toll on our streets from knife crime should be a wake-up call even to this complacent government.

There have been 48 deaths in London alone this year that the police are  treating as murder. Most of those deaths are from knife crime. Some are from guns. In a crisis, politicians are often anxious to be seen to be doing something. But if we really want to tackle a problem we need to do something that works. The Tories’ knee-jerk response is to call for more stop and search, to ask the internet companies to stop videos glorifying violence and to blame Labour’s London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

But random stop and search has never worked, although properly targeted stop and search can play its part. In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio got rid of it altogether and crime went down.

The internet giants do have a role to play in the type of material they allow. But that’s true of all sorts of crime, from online fraud, to child pornography through to terrorism. All of it is too easy online, and the government must do more than have a cosy chat with the companies that allow it.

And blaming Labour’s Mayor is really low, even for this government. The Metropolitan Police, like almost every force in the country has suffered huge cuts in funding, in officer numbers and in support staff.

Central government cuts are responsible for the loss of 2,500 officers in London since 2010, and a total of 21,000 officers nationally. We need to learn from what works. In Scotland, they have cut knife crime dramatically by treating it as a public health problem.

As well as recruiting more police, this is what Labour will do in government.

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