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Opinion: Families of knife crime victims demand action

PUBLISHED: 08:30 18 May 2019

Brent North MP Barry Gardiner is frustrated by local austerity cuts.

Brent North MP Barry Gardiner is frustrated by local austerity cuts.

©Louise Haywood-Schiefer/lhschiefer.com/2017

I recently visited the mother of a young man stabbed on the streets of Brent.

I listened to the pain in her family and confusion in her voice. Why had this happened? Her son she insisted was not into gangs or drugs or crime.

Above all she wanted to know what I was going to do about it. She knew all about the Tory cuts. She wanted solutions — not excuses.

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That is no easy thing for an opposition MP. When you are not in government you cannot change either the budget or the law.

Of course, I have written to the policing minister demanding that he secure the necessary resources to keep my constituents safe. I've worked with Sadiq Khan and his team at the mayor's office to secure the extra £110million he has delivered for police to tackle knife crime. But I know, just as that young lad's mother knows: You cannot simply arrest your way out of this crisis.

That is why in the Labour Party we have said knife crime must be treated not just as a police matter, but as the much wider social and public health issue that it is.

Nationally government austerity has led to the closure of 760 youth centres. In Brent North, we lost the last dedicated youth centre in 2016 and are now left with one youth centre to serve all of Brent. So well done to your newspaper for its powerful exposé last week of the tragic decision to close Roundwood Youth Centre. The truth is young people need a safe place away from the streets. But understand that with only 21 per cent of its previous funding, this decision is being imposed not by the council but by the government's austerity obsession.

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