Rachel's February Luton News article


Tackling the rising epidemic of knife crime

Knife crime is a scourge on our communities right across the country, and under the Conservatives, knife crime has risen 77% nationally since 2015.

Sadly, we have seen too many young people injured or killed as a result of knife crime incidents. Knife crime not only takes lives, but changes them forever for all involved, especially the families who are left behind. In Luton, I have listened to families whose children have been killed and to our local community, who do not want to see yet another young life lost.

Myself and Sarah Owen MP recently met with Bedfordshire Police’s Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU) team to discuss their ‘Just Drop It’ knife campaign which aims to help young people go knife free. The moving and impactful campaign centres around the experience of Roseann, whose son Azaan ‘AJ’ Kalim was tragically fatally stabbed in 2018. Since the campaign’s launch, VERU has already spoken to over 5000 students across Bedfordshire.

Last week, I spoke in Parliament about the impact knife crime has had in Luton. I spoke about other local initiatives to tackle knife crime, including Luton Youth Partnership Service’s multi-agency support hub, and grassroots community organisations such as Wingman Mentors, who we also recently met to discuss their campaign to install critical bleed kits in locations across our town.

In the debate I also supported Labour’s plan to tackle this rising epidemic. New, stronger laws will crack down on dangerous knife sales that the Government has promised and failed to ban so many times, including widening the ban on online sales of large-bladed weapons.

Labour’s prevention-first strategy will aim to tackle the causes of knife crime early and systematically. Our Young Futures programme will put youth workers in A&E units and custody centres, and mentors in pupil referral units, to support young people at risk. A national network of youth hubs will bring local services together and deliver support for teenagers, preventing young people being drawn into knife crime, targeting those most at risk and building a package of support to stop them ever picking up a knife.

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