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Home Secretary Unveils New Strategy to Deal With Violent Crime

Home Secretary Unveils New Strategy to Deal With Violent Crime

Knife crime

Amber Rudd has unveiled the Government’s new Serious Violence Strategy (SVS), announcing a host of Government measures to tackle the national rise in violent crime.

Speaking in London, the Home Secretary said that the strategy “represents a real step-change in the way we think about and respond to” violent crime.

The 114-page document states that social media and a shift in drug culture amongst young people are leading to “cycles of tit-for-tat violence.”

To combat this cycle, the policy report urges social media companies to be more vigilant in removing violent, gang-related content shared on their sites and to review terms and conditions where necessary, so as to “make it clear that that they will not host any content linked to gangs or gang violence.”

Ms Rudd also announced that £40m of government spending will go towards measures including a new National County Lines Coordination Centre to monitor drug trafficking from London and an Early Intervention Youth Fund and drug co-ordination centre, to strengthen preventative support.

These steps will be bolstered by significant legal innovations under the Offensive Weapons Bill, which is to criminalise the sale of acid to under-18s as well as possession of corrosive substances in public, in response to a recent rise in acid attacks.

Online sales of knives to residential addresses and private possession of weapons such as ‘zombie knives’ and knuckledusters will also be prohibited under the legislation.

Ms Rudd said of the measures:

“As a Government, we will never stand by while acid is thrown or knives wielded. I am clear that we must do whatever it takes to tackle this so that no parent has to bury their child.”

Government considers extending police powers to enforce new laws

Although overall crime rates are continuing to fall, a spike in violent crimes including homicide, knife and gun offences has affected nearly all police force areas since 2014, with growing numbers of young offenders being reported.

Rudd says the SVS will endeavour to look into these trends, in order to “provide robust evidence on what is driving these attacks and the cross-government action needed to tackle them.”

In addition, an extension of police stop-and-search powers to include corrosive substances is being considered as “a vital policing tool” to enforce new laws.

Acid attack survivor and campaigner Andreas Christopheros says that the new laws could go further, saying: “I have been pushing for some time now for a decanting legislation where it would become an offence to decant acid from its original well-labelled bottle into any other receptacle.”

Mr Christopheros adds: “In the situation we are in now, you can be caught twice and still get out it if you have good reason,” asserting that stringent custodial sentencing rather than legal age restrictions is needed to deter attacks.

Crime increase linked to “improvements in police recording”

Many have welcomed the host of legal and policy updates introduced under the Serious Violence Strategy – with Local Government Association Chair Simon Blackburn praising the “significant emphasis on early intervention support.”

However, the strategy has also been criticised for failing to mention drastic police cuts in the last decade as a potential factor in rising violent crime.

Between 2010 and 2017, UK police officer numbers fell from 143,734 to 123,142, with September 2017 marking the lowest number of police in the national force since recent records began in 1996.

Along with both Communities Secretary Sajid Javid and Policing Minister Nick Hurd, the Home Secretary has publicly denied ties between police cuts and increased violent crime, stating: “the evidence does not bear out claims that resources are to blame for rising violence,” and adding that “improvements in police recording” account in part for the elevated statistics.

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