Sajid Javid says ministers should stop young people feeling 'worthless' to tackle knife crime 'national emergency'

Posted On: 
15th April 2019

Ministers must do more to stop young people feeling "worthless" in a bid to tackle the "national emergency" of rising violent crime, Sajid Javid will say today.

The Home Secretary will say ministers should 'design policy to shape the lives of young people to prevent criminality'.
Credit: 
PA

In his first major speech on crime, the Home Secretary - tipped as a future Conservative leader - will call for the issue to be treated like the "outbreak of some virulent disease" and throw his weight behind a public health-style approach to battling violent offences.

And he will argue that the “mindset of government needs to shift” to help stop young people from being drawn into offending in the first place.

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Mr Javid will say: "Just as we can design products to prevent crime, we can also design policy to shape the lives of young people to prevent criminality.

"Changing the lives of young people will not be an easy task. Crime has a way of drawing in those who feel worthless.

"But when you belong to something greater than yourself, when you have something to lose, it’s not as easy to throw your life away.

"No future should be pre-determined by where you’re born, or how you’re brought up. We cannot afford to leave anyone behind."

The latest figures show that there were 285 knife-related killings in England and Wales in 2017/18 - the highest number since records began in 1946.

Meanwhile, police last year logged around 1.5 million violent offences - a leap of almost a fifth on the previous 12 months.

The stark figures prompted a £100m cash boost for police at the last budget, as well as an overhaul of the rules around stop-and-search powers.

Mr Javid and Prime Minister Theresa May have also unveiled plans to require state bodies including schools and hospitals to spot young people at risk of knife crime.

They are expected to report warning signs, including young people turning up at accident and emergency units with suspicious injuries or displaying difficult behaviour at school.

But the approach has drawn criticism from some of those already-cash-strapped professions.

Doubling down, Mr Javid will tell charities, police chiefs and youth workers today that public bodies should have "the confidence to report their concerns, safe in the knowledge that everyone will close ranks to protect that child".

'SCOURGE'

Speaking ahead of the address by Mr Javid, Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan said: "Serious youth violence has now become a crisis – there’s no other way of talking about it.

"To tackle this growing scourge, we must address the ‘poverty of hope’ felt by too many children and young people across the country, who see little or no chance of a positive future.

"Caught in a vicious cycle, they carry knives because they don’t feel safe."

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott also responded to Mr Javid's address warning that "warm words" will not bring an end to bloodshed.

She said: “The Tories have overseen nearly a decade of the most savage cuts to policing, education, mental health and youth services, and remain in denial about how their reckless austerity policies have led to this crisis. This is no support for a public health approach.

“Reannouncing ineffective measures such as shifting the blame onto hard pressed nurses and teaches, and random stop and search, will do nothing to distract from the fact that this government has failed to keep our young people safe. 

“So, the Home Secretary can say ‘public health approach’ in as many speeches as he likes, but until his government actually implements a fully resourced, genuine, cross departmental public health strategy, this is just hot air, and nothing will change.”