RNA - The United Kingdom’s impotence in managing its internal affairs has grabbed the headlines once again. knife crime is rising and as the government fails to “adequately” address the crisis, the Home Affairs select committee is taking action.
All schools in areas at risk of serious youth violence should have a dedicated police officer to combat the surge in knife crime and cross county lines gangs, say MPs.
The Home Affairs Select Committee has compiled the most comprehensive study into the causes of, and possible solutions to, youth violence since the problems began to escalate in 2015.
This comes after the number of under-18s admitted to hospital with knife-related injuries rose by a third between 2013-14 and 2017-18 in England and Wales.
A report from the Committee said there was a “serious mismatch” between the government’s diagnosis of the problem and its solutions. The government's Serious Violence Strategy, launched last April, committed £11m for an "early intervention youth fund" to help young people at risk of getting involved in violence.
MPs criticised the government's current violence reduction strategy as "completely inadequate" and stressed that urgent action is needed to tackle cross county lines gangs.
The committee welcomed more investment into neighbourhood policing - including a commitment to get a dedicated police officer into "all schools in areas with an above-average risk of serious youth violence" by April 2020.
It also called on newly appointed Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, to take personal responsibility to tackle the rising levels of knife and gun crime amongst young people. Johnson has already promised to hire 20,000 police officers and has appointed a new home secretary, Priti Patel, to deliver his vision for law and order.
The all-party committee wants a new "schools police force" in every constabulary to be in place by next April. At least a third of all police forces have no officers in schools, including the West Midlands, the second largest force in England, where more than 700 schoolchildren were victims of knife crime last year, including 41 of primary school age.
New policing minister, Kit Malthouse, said increased police powers could have a short-term impact, but the solutions to knife crime, in particular, were "complex and wide-ranging".
But critics of government policy are not convinced that the new Tory administration can get to grips with the crisis. "They're missing the point," said Patsy McKie, founding member of campaigning group Mothers Against Violence. McKie's son was killed in Manchester in 1999.
"They don't know any better, so they're trying some things out ... but we have to look at things from a different perspective", McKie continued.
It remains to be seen if a hard right Tory government, which is more motivated by ideology than policy innovation, can generate the new perspective demanded by victims of violent crime.