On Thursday I spoke in the Gangs and Serious Youth Violence debate called by my colleague Chuka Umunna MP. During my speech I stressed that gangs and serious youth violence is not a new issue, but the problem is getting worse. What is new is that today we are facing higher levels of violence, the age profile of those caught up in violent crime is falling and the problem is also becoming more widespread in terms of the number of non-urban communities that are being afflicted by this problem.
Before the debate in the House of Commons I was also pleased to speak at a Stop Youth Violence summit attended by MPs, campaigners and experts on the issue of gangs and youth violence. It was fantastic to hear from inspiring young people working in our communities to address these problems at a grass roots level.
Gang crime and violence amongst young people is a spreading epidemic that is taking the lives of young people and inflicting real pain and hardship upon our communities. I challenged the Home Office Minister Karen Bradley to come up with a coherent strategy to deal with the scale of this challenge, especially how the Government plans to prevent young people from being drawn into gangs in the first place. The Government’s eight page strategy document published in January 2016 is not fit for purpose.
I do not believe that this issue is being taken as seriously as it needs to be by the Ministers responsible.