Government in bid to tackle violent crime to make streets safe

Det Supt Una Jennings with some weapons handed in as part of a recent surrender scheme aimed at making the streets of South Yorkshire safer
Det Supt Una Jennings with some weapons handed in as part of a recent surrender scheme aimed at making the streets of South Yorkshire safer

The Government is to commit to doing 'whatever it takes' to make Britain's streets safe - as a new blueprint for tackling violent crime is launched later today.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd will emphasise the Government's determination to halt the rising tide of stabbings, shootings and acid attacks as she launches its new strategy.

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Unveiling her multi-pronged blueprint on, Ms Rudd will say: "We will take the comprehensive approach necessary to make sure that our sons and daughters are protected and our streets are safe.

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"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."

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Ms Rudd is expected to highlight the importance of stopping youngsters carrying knives in the first place as she publishes the Government's Serious Violence Strategy.

Officials say the approach marks a 'major shift' by striking a balance between prevention and law enforcement.

The strategy identifies the changing drugs market as a key driver of the violence affecting communities.

According to the document, around half the rise in robbery, knife and gun crime is due to improvements in police recording, with drug-related cases identified as an 'important driver' behind the rest of the increase.

Figures show that between 2014-15 and 2016-17, homicides where either the victim or suspect were known to be involved in using or dealing illicit drugs increased from 50 per cent to 57 per cent.

The strategy sets out how drug-market violence may be facilitated and spread by social media as a small minority of individuals use online platforms to glamorise gang life and taunt rivals.

The new strategy - underpinned by £40 million of Home Office funding and spearheaded by a new Offensive Weapons Bill - will:

- Call on social media companies to do more to rid the web of violent gang content;

- Set out tough restrictions on online sales of knives following concerns that age verification checks can be sidestepped;

- Make it a criminal offence to possess corrosive substances in a public place;

- Reveal plans to consult on extending stop and search powers so police can use the tactics to seize acid from suspects carrying it without good reason;

- Make it illegal to possess certain weapons, including zombie knives and knuckle-dusters, in private.

Ministers are also stepping up efforts to tackle the 'county lines' drug distribution model where city gangs branch out into rural or coastal towns, using children and vulnerable adults as couriers to move heroin and crack cocaine between the new market and their urban hub.

The Home Office will provide £3.6 million to support the development of a new National County Lines Co-ordination Centre, while the strategy details how modern slavery legislation could be used to prosecute cases.

In a speech in London Ms Rudd, who yesterday rejected suggestions there were not enough officers on the streets, is expected to say: "This strategy represents a real step-change in the way we think about and respond to these personal tragedies, these gruesome violent crimes which dominate the front pages of our newspapers with seemingly depressing regularity.

"A crucial part of our approach will be focusing on and investing more in prevention and early intervention.

"Because what better way to stop knife crime than by stopping young people from picking up knives in the first place?"

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott claimed the Government 'has only just woken up to the problem of rising violent crime'.

She said: "Acknowledging the need to tackle causes as well as effects of violent crimes is welcome but the money committed is very small scale.

"I am appealing to the Home Secretary to commit to no further decline in police numbers for as long as this Government is in office."