Express & Star

Labour bid to cut knife crime and violence against women and girls within decade

The manifesto declares Labour has a ‘straightforward vision for policing and criminal justice’.

Four Police Officers walking along the street in Hornsey, London, from behind

Labour promised to “return law and order to our streets” with vows to halve knife crime and levels of violence against women and girls within a decade.

Third on the party’s “five missions to rebuild Britain” is a pledge to “take back our streets” by “halving serious violent crime” and “raising confidence in the police and criminal justice system to its highest levels”.

The manifesto also promises to “halve levels of violence against women and girls within a decade” and knife crime in the same period.

But the document appears to be short on detail of how this could be achieved. Without more information on the measures the party is using to define serious violent crime and violence against women and girls, it is not possible to estimate a numerical target for these pledges.

The manifesto declares Labour has a “straightforward vision for policing and criminal justice” and includes a broad and wide-ranging list of pledges, some of which appear to build on existing policies.

“When you call the police, they should come. When you report a crime, it should be properly investigated no matter who you are, or where you live. Police should have the trust of communities. Victims must have faith that justice will be delivered, and criminals will be punished. Prisons should not be academies of crime”, it said.

There are “basics of safe, secure, law-abiding society” and not “outlandish expectations”, according to the document which bemoans the state of “Britain today” where levels of violence are “too high” and a sense of security has been “badly eroded”.

Vowing to restore “visible” neighbour policing, Labour set a goal of recruiting an extra 13,000 constables and police and community support officers (PCSOs), as well as more special constables.

Residents would once again have a “named officer to turn to when things go wrong”, the manifesto said.

A direct entry scheme for detectives was also cited as a way of boosting police numbers and bringing more expertise to investigations.

On efforts to tackle knife crime, the manifesto said: “Every young person caught in possession of a knife will be referred to a youth offending team and will receive a mandatory plan to prevent reoffending”.

A general view of a man in a hoodie holding a knife
The manifesto outlined proposed efforts to tackle knife crime (Katie Collins/PA)

The party would also build on existing bans on blades while promising to establish a “network of hubs reaching every community” complete with youth workers, mental health support workers and careers advisers to “stop young people being drawn into crime”.

The plan could see youth workers also based in hospital accident and emergency wards and pupil referral units, funded by the revenues from firearms licensing.

So-called “respect” orders could be introduced to target anti-social behaviour which would ban offenders from town centres in a bid to stamp out public drinking and drug use. Meanwhile fly-tippers and vandals will be “forced to clean up the mess” they made.

It is unclear whether these would work alongside existing notices and orders or mark a return to Antisocial Behaviour Orders (ASBOs), previously used in England, Wales and Northern Ireland but still used in Scotland.

A “specific” offence will be introduced for assaults on shopworkers to try to better protect them from threats and violence.

And another would be created for spiking, while an offence of criminal exploitation of children would be brought in amid attempts to “go after the gangs who are luring young people into violence and crime.”

In the bid to tackle low prosecution rates for rape, specialist teams would be installed in “every police force”, the manifesto pledged.

Rape cases would be fast-tracked, with “specialist courts at every crown court location in England and Wales.”

Victims of domestic abuse would be able to talk directly to trained experts in 999 control rooms and there would be legal advocates available in every police force area to “advise victims from the moment of report to trial”.

Labour joined the Conservatives in promising to bring in Martyn’s Law to help protect venues against terror attacks amid a row over years of delays in introducing the legislation.

The new law would be named after Martyn Hett – the 29-year-old who was one of 22 people murdered in a suicide bombing at the end of an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena in May 2017 – and would require UK venues and councils to have mandatory training and plans to prevent and protect against terror attacks.

Figen Murray, mother of Manchester Arena bombing victim Martyn Hett, and her husband Stuart speaking to Sir Keir Starmer at the Houses of Parliament in May 2024
Figen Murray, mother of Manchester Arena bombing victim Martyn Hett, and her husband Stuart speaking to Sir Keir Starmer about Martyn’s Law in May (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Martyn’s mother, Figen Murray, has been campaigning for the Government to bring the law in and last month walked 200 miles from Manchester to Downing Street.

Ms Murray said she felt “let down” and “misled” after meeting Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who told her he would introduce the legislation before the parliamentary summer break.

But later the same day he called the General Election, leading to Parliament being dissolved before Martyn’s Law could be enacted.

To restore public confidence in policing amid a series of scandals, Labour promised to give police watchdog His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire & Rescue Services “new powers to intervene with failing forces”.

Mandatory professional standards on vetting, checks and misconduct for police officers would also be introduced.

Anyone with a history of violence against women and girls would be barred from the police service and automatic suspensions would be brought in for officers investigated for domestic abuse and sexual offences.

Turning to wider efforts to tackle the backlog of court cases waiting to be dealt with, Labour said associate prosecutors – who handle uncontested magistrate court cases for the Crown Prosecution Service on – could be able to work on more types of “appropriate” cases.

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