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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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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On 9th January 2020 the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark, spoke during the fourth day of debate in the House on the Queen’s Speech, about serious youth violence:
Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, I wish to raise the issue of local services that are likely to have a positive impact on serious youth violence, in particular knife crime. I appreciate that the criminal justice system was key to yesterday’s debate on the gracious Speech, and indeed the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Rochester touched briefly on knife crime in that context. However, I wish to concentrate not on policing per se, nor on the actions of the courts, prison or probation services, but on those of other local agencies. Continue reading “Bishop of Southwark responds to Queen’s Speech – serious youth violence”
On 8th January 2020 the Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, spoke during the third day of debate on the Queen’s Speech, on the topic of criminal justice:
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this debate on the gracious Speech and look forward to hearing two maiden speeches from the noble Lords, Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay and Lord Davies of Gower. I am sure we will listen with interest to their contributions and that their different experiences will come to be of value in your Lordships’ House.
My contribution focuses on criminal justice matters, not only because of my role as bishop to Her Majesty’s prisons but because these issues affect every community, including those in my diocese.
Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester speaks on criminal justice, youth violence, child exploitation and probation reform in Queen’s Speech debate”
On 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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On 3rd September 2019 Baroness Neville-Rolfe asked the Government “what steps they plan to take to support the Crown Prosecution Service in prosecuting, and the courts in sentencing, those involved in gang-related offences, illegal migration and petty offences”. The Bishop of St Albans asked a follow-up question:
Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I share with many others gratitude for what the Government are doing to have an integrated approach to serious violence and youth violence in particular, and I welcome having more police because we need to have safer streets. But by the time we get to prosecuting and sentencing it is all too late. Very often people have been left injured and dead. How much are we investing way before that, particularly at school level?
Will the noble and learned Lord say a little more about what support is being given to our schools? In particular, when, for example, children are found with knives, does this trigger a safeguarding response so that we are trying to deal with the causes, rather than just the results?
Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans appeals for early intervention to prevent serious youth crime”