EXCL Baroness Lawrence: Ministers' failure to tackle knife crime among black youths 'like ethnic cleansing'

Posted On: 
11th February 2019

The mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence has likened the police and government's failure to tackle knife crime among black youths to "ethnic cleansing".

Baroness Lawrence has hit out at the government for failing to prioritise the battle against knife crime
Credit: 
Louise Haywood-Schiefer

Baroness Lawrence said black lives were viewed as "cheap" and claimed the authorities would have acted faster if white teenagers were being killed at the same rate.

2018 was London’s bloodiest year on record with 134 people murdered in the capital as reported knife crime incidents soared to 14,769, up by more than 2,000 from the previous year.

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In an interview with The House magazine to mark the twentieth anniversary of the publication of the Macpherson report into the investigations of her son’s brutal murder, the Labour peer hit out at successive Home Secretaries for failing to seriously tackle the problem.

“If this was a group of white kids that were being killed on a daily basis up and down the country, the Home Secretary would want to do something about it,” she said.

“The parents would – everybody be up in arms. Society will not sit back and allow this to carry on. And this has been going on since 1999. Twenty years on, so many kids, and even so the numbers are increasing.

"And what are they doing? It’s only now you begin to hear they’re looking to try to address this, but that could have been done a long time ago and nip it in the bud.”

She added: “Come on. It’s a black kid. Nobody cares. Black lives are cheap. You know, who cares about one more black person?”

Stephen Lawrence was 18 when he was stabbed to death in an unprovoked attack in London in 1993.

The bungled police investigation into his murder prompted a public inquiry which found elements of “institutional racism” within Scotland Yard.

It took a change in double jeopardy laws and a fresh trial before Gary Dobson and David Norris were finally convicted of Stephen’s murder in 2012.

But weeks ahead of the report’s anniversary, Baroness Lawrence warned that forces have failed to make significant progress in improving diversity or creating a culture shift within the service.

“The feedback I’ve been getting is that not much has changed,” she said.

"That's the view a lot of people have, the families that's going through all of this. You know, the stuff I've had to go through in the past, how many years trying for society and the justice system to take notice?

"This is what's happening to our kids. It's like ethnic cleansing, right?"

A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “Every death as a result of violent crime is a tragedy and preventing young people’s involvement with serious violence is a core part of our Serious Violence Strategy. This Strategy addresses the root causes of violence by working with a range of agencies to focus on early intervention alongside strong law enforcement.

“We are providing £200m over the next 10 years through a Youth Endowment Fund which will build the evidence for early intervention, and will focus on those most at risk of youth violence.

“We have also announced two new initiatives to steer vulnerable people away from a life of serious violence: a youth advocates programme, which will see respected members of communities receive specialist training in order to have safe conversations with young people, and the next stage of the #knifefree advertising campaign.”