Knife crime epidemic fuelled by cuts

The Youth Select Committee has launched a new report which claims that cuts to important and arguably life-saving services for vulnerable young people have caused a rise in knife crime.

Our Generation’s Epidemic: Knife Crime is the result of a 2018 UK-wide ballot of 1.1 million young people aged 11 to 18, in which respondents declared knife crime their biggest concern.

Recent research from the House of Commons Library revealed that knife crime, particularly where it affects young people, has been a ‘persistent and growing concern’ for successive governments.

The committee found that inequality within communities and difference in opportunities provided across the country makes some young people particularly vulnerable to the draw of violence and gangs. Therefore, the committee suggests that the government should develop a plan with clear targets and deadlines aimed at tackling the injustices which make a young person more vulnerable to knife crime. It also recommends that ministers should develop long-term funding plans, of at least five years, to develop effective ways of helping and reaching young people at risk of getting involved in knife crime.

Members of the Youth Select Committee also argue that school exclusion should be the last step in a long line of disciplinary measures, and schools should be held accountable for their exclusions. The government should clarify its position on short term custodial sentences for young people who carry knives and to consider whether there is another approach that could more effectively deter young people from continued involvement in knife crime.

Rachel Ojo, chair of the Youth Select Committee, said: “The Youth Select Committee are concerned with the government’s increasingly punitive approach to tackling knife crime. If the government wishes to confront the fundamental causes of the rise in violent crime amongst young people, it must do more to address and improve the difficult circumstances many young people are facing.”