On 27th June 2019 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Paddick, “That this House takes note of the impact of government policy on knife crime”. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I too am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, for obtaining this debate and for his excellent analysis of some of the causes and, indeed, the work that has been done on how we might address them, which is a holistic approach. I am also delighted that a number of experts in policing are speaking in this debate. I come to this with little knowledge of that, but I have knowledge through the 136 schools in my diocese—I have been to two this week—and in many of the urban areas across Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, which seek to bring together groups of young people to reflect on how this can be addressed.
This debate looks at the impact of government policies on serious youth violence. As the causes are many and varied, we need to look at a wide range of different issues. We are all aware that access to lethal weapons has escalated and intensified conflict. Demonstrably, when the year to March 2018 represented the highest number of knife homicides in England and Wales since 1946, it is all too clear to us that it is too easy to obtain weapons, notwithstanding the Offensive Weapons Act 2019. Indeed, from previous problems, for example acid attacks, we are aware that simply removing one way of attacking other people does not necessarily immediately solve a problem. I am therefore delighted that government action in reducing weapon accessibility has had some success, with Operation Sceptre taking some 10,000 knives off the streets. Yet piecemeal approaches will never be enough.
Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans says community-led approach is crucial in tackling serious youth crime”
On 20th June 2019 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a question he had tabled to Government on serious youth violence:
The Lord Bishop of St Alban: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to address youth violence.
Baroness Barran (Con): My Lords, with the leave of the House, before I respond to the right reverend Prelate I am sure that the Chamber will join me in feeling profound regret at the recent tragic events and note that our thoughts are with the families of those who have been affected on our streets. The Government are taking steps to address all aspects of youth violence, from prevention to enforcement. Diverting young people away from crime is at the heart of our approach, which is why we are investing more than £220 million in early intervention schemes to steer children and young people away from serious violence.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, last weekend at least four people were killed through serious violence on the streets of the capital, and on Tuesday a young person in Luton, in my own diocese, was stabbed more than 20 times. Among all those who are trying to work on this problem, the churches have been involved, and indeed one church has produced a public statue of a phoenix made from 500 knives that had been reclaimed through a knife amnesty—a question of turning swords into ploughshares. Can the Minister tell us whether Her Majesty’s Government have made an assessment of the effectiveness of weapons amnesties in reducing the number of weapons on the streets, and whether more such initiatives are being planned?
Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about serious youth violence”
On 20th June 2019 MPs asked questions of Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, the Second Church Estates Commissioner. Questions were asked about serious youth violence, clergy recruitment in London, the contribution of cathedrals to the local economy, employee pay gap, responsible investments, mobile phone masts, and persecution of Christians:
The right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked—
Serious Youth Violence
Daniel Kawczynski (Shrewsbury and Atcham) (Con)
1. What steps the Church of England is taking to help tackle serious youth violence; and if she will make a statement. 
Vicky Foxcroft (Lewisham, Deptford) (Lab)
7. What steps the Church of England is taking to help tackle serious youth violence; and if she will make a statement. 
The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Dame Caroline Spelman): The Church was represented at the knife crime summit organised by the Prime Minister at No. 10 earlier this year, and the General Synod will be debating this subject at its session next month. There is no question but that this issue is of the utmost seriousness, as too many young lives are being lost.
Continue reading “Church Commissioner Questions: serious youth violence, clergy recruitment in London, cathedrals and the economy, employee pay gap, responsible investments, mobile phone masts, Christian persecution”
On 6th February 2019 the House of Lords considered the Government’s Offensive Weapons Bill in its third day of Committee. The Bishop of Newcastle, Rt Revd Chrisine Hardman spoke against Government amendments to create new Knife Crime Prevention Orders. The amendments were withdrawn following the debate, but the Minister indicated they were likely to be returned to again at a later stage:
The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: Before becoming Bishop of Newcastle, I was an archdeacon in south-east London. In my archdeaconry, sadly, was Eltham, where Stephen Lawrence died. I do not, therefore, underestimate the sheer heartbreak and devastation of knife crime, particularly when young people are involved. This crime is growing and growing. I have sat with families whose children have been victims of knife crime. I have officiated at a funeral where that has been the case. The circles of devastation and heartbreak just go on and on. I do not underestimate the seriousness of this problem; nevertheless, I object to this amendment and hope that it will be withdrawn, so that there is more time to reflect on it. Continue reading “Offensive Weapons Bill – Bishop of Newcastle asks Government to think again on Knife Crime Prevention Orders”
On 15th November 2018 Lord Bach asked the Government ‘what steps they intend to take to strengthen the ability of police forces in England and Wales to tackle knife and other serious and violent crime in addition to funding provided by the Early Intervention Youth Fund.’ The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow up question:
Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about church and grassroots efforts to tackle violent crime”