In the light of recent knife crime activity that has been hitting the national headlines and impacting some communities, most credible people would argue that preventative activity is vital if we are going to address the problem. As has been made very clear in public the significant reduction in police numbers has been a key problem that needs urgent attention. However because a substantial number of Police and Crime Commissioners are from the Conservative Party that made the cuts, the calls have not been very consistent across the UK. When it comes to preventative actions outside of operational policing the same problems are emerging. A few days ago Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London and in effect PCC for London along with 7 other PCCs from across the UK has written to the Government calling for them to change the way in which young people who are at risk of being excluded from Schools are treated. It is very clear that some of the people being excluded are at serious risk as either as victims or criminals when it comes to knife crime. This is understood by the Police and Crime Commissioners across the UK including the Conservative PCCs, but because calling on the Government demands challenging them to change their policies, rather than all PCCs standing up together in an attempt to reduce the risk of crime, Sadiq and his 7 Labour colleagues have written a letter that was not signed by any of the Conservative or Independent PCCs. This is really frustrating as there may have been a great deal of greater strength to the letter and its proposals if all of the PCCs had signed it. As this article explains, the letter which was sent to Theresa May and will no doubt go straight to the party political waste bin includes the following comment:
“Clearly, the way the education system deals with excluded young people is broken. It cannot be right that so many of those who have committed offences have been excluded from school or were outside of mainstream education. That is why the time has come to act urgently. In the first instance, local authorities need powers and responsibilities over all school exclusions. Time and again we are hearing how the fragmentation of the education system, and the breaking of the link between schools and local authorities, has led to a lack of accountability, co-ordination and action.”
It is tragic that this is seen as a party political approach, when what is needed is a demand for greater protection of our nations children that is from across parties and indeed led by Independent voices such as Sue Mountstevens, Martin Surl and Martyn Underhill, rather than led by one party and denied by the other.