LIKE SO many issues, the political response to the surge in violent crime – and, specifically, the number of fatal stabbings involving young people – appears to be falling short of the public’s expectations.
It saw Labour link the epidemic in knife crime to cuts to community policing as the Tories defended police funding by saying the deployment of officers was a matter for locally-elected crime commissioners.
Neither response, however, offers any reassurance to the grief-stricken families mourning loved ones – or all those parents who are increasingly fearful about the safety of their children and prevalence of lethal weapons on the streets.
Though community patrols are integral to policing, the issue is far more nuanced and also involves policies pertaining to schools, courts and drugs after evidence showed that pupils excluded from lessons are more likely to become involved in knife-carrying crimes.
And while the onus should be on local forces to develop strategies that reflect the needs of their communities, there is a case to be made for a high-profile post being created to co-ordinate the national response to this emergency.
It has happened before – Keith Hellawell, West Yorkshire’s then chief constable, became Tony Blair’s drugs tsar in 1998 before a major policy disagreement – and the appointment of an apolitical figure, working alongside Baroness Newlove, the Victims Commissioner, and others, would provide far greater policy co-ordination and avoid the rancour which clearly exists between senior politicians.
How many more young lives need to be needlessly lost before MPs, mayors and crime commissioners realise that their bickering, and point scoring, is proving to be dangerously counter-productive?