Statement on Knife Crime in Thornton Heath
Many constituents have contacted me about the recent series of stabbings in and around Thornton Heath. Two young men have lost their lives in these attacks, and a third is currently being treated in hospital. My thoughts are with the victims and their families.
I have long called on the Government to take urgent action against knife crime. We need to make sure that police have the resources they need to deal with attacks as they happen, but we also need to tackle the causes of youth crime to prevent it from happening in the first place.
Effective youth services are key to keeping young people off the streets and giving them more positive things to do. I know this can help reduce youth crime. Improving activities and support for young people was a key focus for me when I was leader of Lambeth Council and, working with the community, we cut violent youth crime by a third in 18 months.
Last month I wrote to the Mayor of Croydon to request a meeting to discuss the Council’s plans for local youth services. I’m very concerned that young people in Croydon have been left without enough support after the Conservative Government cut Croydon’s funding twice as hard as the average for other councils. This situation will become worse if the Mayor goes ahead with his plans to cut funding for youth services even further.
Knife crime destroys families and communities, and every young life lost to this violence is an unbelievable tragedy. I know from my own experience that this is not inevitable. There is more our council can and must do to keep young people safe.
Steven Reed is Labour MP for Croydon North and Shadow Minister for Children and Families. In 2018 his private member’s bill on reducing violent mental health restraint became law. In June 2019 he launched Labour’s civil society strategy outlining radical plans to empower citizens and communities.
Steve chairs the Cooperative Councils Innovation Network, co-chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for London, was Leader of Lambeth Council 2006-12 where he led the council’s children’s services to become best-rated in the country and pioneered the public-health approach to tackling violent youth crime. He worked in publishing for 16 years and was an elected trade union branch secretary.