Bishop of St Albans speaks about knife crime

On 20th October 2022, the House of Lords debated a motion to take note on Violent Crime, Gang Activity and Burglaries. The Bishop of St Albans spoke in the debate, with particular reference to knife crime:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Snape, not only for obtaining this timely debate but for his introduction to it. I declare my interest as a vice-president of the Local Government Association.

I will focus on just one specific area of this huge topic, which I imagine many of us will want to address: knife crime. The diocese I serve encompasses Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire; in Bedfordshire, knife crime has increased by a third since 2010. There are various estimates about the increases over the last year, but it is something in the region of 10% across our nation. There was a fall during the lockdowns, but we are now rapidly reaching the same levels as pre Covid and the projections are stark—so it is deeply worrying.

It is engendering huge levels of fear: as I go around talking to people, many of the elderly are fearful of their houses being broken into, although they are statistically unlikely to be the victims of knife crime. However, when you go into schools, it is a topic of which many young children are terrified, not least as they make their way to and from school. Hospitals are dealing with soaring numbers of stab victims: 4,112 cases were recorded last year, a 2% increase on the previous year. Of those, 855 were in London, 405 in the West Midlands, 310 in Greater Manchester, 240 in West Yorkshire hospitals, 175 in South Yorkshire and 140 in Merseyside. In other words, this is not just a case of stories being particularly highly reported in the papers of London; it is something that affects areas—particularly urban but even sometimes rural—across our country. It is particularly concerning that a recent report suggests that only one in six crimes involving a knife in London has been solved by the police over the last two years.

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Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill: Bishop of Manchester speaks on violence reduction and on regulations on noise from protests

On 22nd March 2022, the House of Lords debated Commons amendments to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. The Bishop of Manchester spoke twice in the debate, first voicing his concerns regarding serious violence reduction orders:

My Lords, I echo the thoughts that the noble Lord, Lord Young, has just shared. I declare my interest as chair of the Manchester Homelessness Partnership board and as co-chair of the national police ethics committee, because I also wish to speak to the Motion regarding serious violence reduction orders.

I support the Vagrancy Act repeal, as I know my right reverend and most reverend friends on these Benches do, and have sought to see that included in previous Bills. I am grateful that it is now on track and I look forward to working with Ministers and others to ensure that we avoid any unintended consequences and do not simply recreate the old Act in more modern language.

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Bishop of St Albans asks for swords into ploughshares approach to tackle rising knife crime

On 21st July the Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, asked Her Majesty’s Government “further to the statistical bulletin by the Office for National Statistics Crime in England and Wales: year ending March 2020, published on 17 July, which reported that the incidence of knife crime is at a record high, what action they are taking to address the rise of knife crime in England and Wales.” The Minister’s response and the follow-up question from the Bishop, is below:

Baroness Williams of Trafford (The Minister of State, Home Office): My Lords, the Government are taking urgent action to tackle knife crime, which is costing too many lives and leaving too many people afraid. Police funding is increasing by more than £1 billion this year. We are recruiting 20,000 more police officers and making it easier for them to use stop and search, and we are ensuring that more knife crime offenders go to prison for longer.

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Bishop of London asks Government about knife crime

London3On 8th October 2019 Lord Naseby (Con) asked the Government “what action they are taking to ensure that retailers selling kitchen knives adhere to regulations on the sale of knives”. The Bishop of London, Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, then asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, as the Bishop of London, knife crime is of huge concern to me and a source of great sorrow. I thank the noble Baroness for her response regarding the “No Points” campaign. However, research undertaken by the Home Office Scientific Development Branch showed that round knives had significantly less penetration capability than pointed knives and are therefore less likely to be life-threatening. Will the noble Baroness comment on how the Government are responding to the advice given by the Scientific Development Branch?

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