Express & Star comment: Battling the epidemic of knife crime
Perhaps Home Secretary Sajid Javid ought to have been meeting chief constables some time ago.
For the crisis surrounding knife crime is not a new phenomenon; it has been steadily becoming more severe over a period of years.
Mr Javid has inherited a dreadful situation and must tackle it with gusto. Youngsters must be taught that there is zero tolerance when it comes to carrying knives for the nation cannot continue to endure the tsunami of tragedy that is upon it.
Innocent children from all walks of life are no longer safe on our streets. Britain is in the grip of an epidemic of knife violence.
Police need to act in the short term through measures like stop and search and intelligence led operations.
But there also needs to be a more fundamental discussion as a nation about this issue and what can be done as a nation to tackle it. Young people now feel they need to arm themselves. Fights that in past years involved fists now escalate to weapons.
Violence is not the only issue to address. For the sad and sorry truth is that youngsters frequently fall into a vicious spiral of crime.
There are too few father figures, too few solid family units, insufficient discipline and too many options to stray from the path. Children who do not carry knives live in fear. They are coerced into a life of violence by nefarious individuals who mean them harm.
The whole issue is fed by the problem of gangs and fuelled by social media, where feuds fester 24 hours a day and violence is filmed and shared. Meanwhile, youth centres that gave young people an outlet are closing as the era of austerity continues to bite.
So while a police crackdown and tougher sentences would tackle some of the issues that lead to death, a more thorough and joined-up approach is required. Youngsters need to be exposed to positive role models while also being given opportunities to better themselves. They must be shown there is a viable alternative to trying to steal a piece of the £1 billion illicit UK drugs trade or win “respects” from violent peers by tooling up.
There must be safe places for recreationschools must be part of the drive as youngsters are shepherded away from violence.
Keeping our streets safe and protecting our children from themselves is a battle we can and must win.