The multiple failures by the Home Office


home-officeWhenever the Government is challenged over its cuts to police budgets it regularly points at reduced levels of crime in our communities. It is certainly true that some levels of crime have fallen, however crime has not gone away as evidenced by a matter that was raised last Monday in Parliament by Ranil Jayawardena, Conservative MP for North East Hampshire who asked Amber Rudd a question.

RJ: What recent steps she has taken to reduce the level of knife crime.

AR: We are taking action to tackle knife crime centred on four key strands: the first relates to police enforcement; the second relates to retailers and responsible sales; the third involves tightening the legislation to ensure that the police have the powers that they need; and the fourth is to encourage early intervention so that people do not get the knives in the first place.

So the need to fund the police is part of this mix, despite the cuts that have taken place so far, the police can only enforce the law if they are properly funded. Here in Sussex Katy Bourne who was elected on the promise of not putting up the Police precept is carrying out a survey to enable her to pretend it is the public and not herself who is calling for an increase, to compensate for the deep cuts that the party that she and Amber and Ranil belong to have made. Ranil then asked a follow up question.

RJ: My constituents in Yateley woke up to a nightmare after Halloween when they found that knife-wielding yobs had been on a slashing spree, including slashing car tyres and soft-top roofs. Some of them were as young as 12 and from outside my constituency. What is my right hon. Friend doing to ensure that the youngest in society cannot get their hands on knives and go on these armed rampages, terrorising communities? They are putting themselves at risk, too.

AR: I thank my hon. Friend for his comment, and I have huge sympathy with his constituents. It is of course illegal for anyone under 18 to buy a knife, and we are working with retailers to ensure that that becomes the case more and more; we are making sure that that is enforced. We are also working with local communities, and we have a community intervention fund which will work with schools and local groups to ensure that young people are aware of just how dangerous it is to carry knives, for them as well as for their potential victims.

The early intervention fund is explained here, it offered £500,000 across the UK outside of London with a maximum sum of £20,000 per application. This means that a likely maximum of 25 awards will have been made. The criteria for the fund was:

The fund has been set up to support community projects which reduce knife crime and have a positive impact on young people at risk of carrying a knife and committing crime. Bids will be assessed on the extent to which they demonstrate:

  • delivery of outcomes to stop knife crime
  • a proven track record of delivering local interventions
  • ability to work with children and young people
  • value for money
  • how they will work in partnership with other projects and services already being delivered in the local area

No matter how good these applications are they cannot attempt to fill the void left by youth services whose funding cuts lie at the heart of many of these issues. The cuts to youth services has been much more damaging than even the police cuts, simply because youth provision is not mandatory and there are no local politicians who are elected to speak up for young peoples needs. As local authority funding was cut, the non mandatory services were first to be removed.

So the issue of intervention and policing have both been put at risk by Amber Rudd and her colleagues, despite the sticking plasters being offered. They of course can always provide us with tightened legislation because Parliamentary budgets are never cut. This leaves one final element of the Home Office response to the short debate on this issue. James Gray who is the MP for North Wiltshire pointed out that knives are easily available online.

AR: my hon. Friend makes a good point. We have to work with the communications service providers and internet providers to ensure that it is not as easy to buy knives online. We also have to ensure that we work with the retailers, so that when people order knives, they have to actually go and collect them. That is the legislation that we are going to bring forward, so that people cannot lie about their age. If they order a knife online, they will have to go and collect it.

It remains to be seen how ID will be checked and who will do so and how they will be funded for the process of age verification. Bearing in mind the high risk of getting things wrong, it is unlikely that the post man delivering the parcel will be willing to do so. However perhaps like the issue of policing and youth provision, this approach will also prove to be a failure, or perhaps some of the online deales will be persuaded to pay taxes to cover such costs?

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
This entry was posted in Charities, Justice Issues, Parliament and Democracy, Police & Crime Commissioner, Policing, Youth Issues and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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