We asked candidates standing in Peterborough: The public is increasingly concerned about knife crime - what do you think needs to be done to tackle this?
Lisa Forbes (Labour)
It is clear that the spike in knife crime needs to be blunted immediately. Not only in Peterborough, but across the country, people are becoming more and more concerned about spates of knife crime in their communities.
The first thing we must do is to recruit more police officers on our streets. After slashing police numbers for nine years, the Tories are no longer the party of law and order. They have made our streets more dangerous due to their reckless agenda of cuts.
We need to protect those who protect us and give the police the resources they need so that more officers can be recruited and communities are no longer exposed.
That being said, we must also admit that this is not a one-dimensional problem and that simply putting more police on the streets won’t solve the issue.
Youth service cuts have blighted communities ever since the Tories took office in 2010.
These are often the first to have their budgets cut but are a lifeline to teenagers and young people who are at risk of being sucked into a life of crime.
If we are to truly solve the knife crime epidemic then we must begin to invest and re-open youth services, as well as commit to education funding in our schools so that those going down the wrong path can be steered away from it.
Only Labour’s strategy to combat knife crime will result in positive outcomes for the people of Peterborough.
Mike Greene (Brexit Party)
No parent, myself included, can fail to be worried by the rise in knife crime that we are seeing across the UK.
Just last month we saw four teenagers arrested in Peterborough on suspicion of attempted murder after a young man was found suffering stab injuries.
We are also seeing an increase in County Lines drug dealing which often brings knife crime with it. Adding to the devastation of the evil dealers.
Those involved feel the need to go armed and knives are the weapon of ease and choice. It’s disturbing that the dealers target young girls with low self-esteem to carry their weapons.
It is depressing to realise that almost a quarter of those charged with knife related offenses are juveniles aged 10-17 which can also mean that their futures are often blighted before they have even begun.
So I worry for the safety, not just of our children here in Peterborough, but we are all at risk if the carrying of knives is not stopped.
It may be a criminal offence to carry most knives, but we need to see tougher sentencing and higher rates of convictions for those caught carrying knives if we are to reduce the rate and quash the incidences of stabbing and knife related crimes.
Five generations of my family have lived in Peterborough and I will work hard and won’t rest until it is a safe place where my own daughters would want to stay and raise their families.
Paul Bristow (Conservative)
Knife crime is a horrible and increasing problem. Our streets should be safe. It’s one of the reasons that our Conservative government is recruiting 20,000 extra police officers. But it needs action on knives, drugs and anti-social behaviour.
This week, Boris Johnson announced our plans for new laws. Anyone caught with a knife will be immediately arrested. They will be charged within 24 hours. And they will be in court within a week.
This is a big change to the current system, which can be slow and ineffective. It’s coupled with more funding for youth services and preventing young people from being sucked into gangs.
We need to catch the offenders too. So we will allow police to search habitual knife-carriers in the street without requiring extra reasons, using a new form of court order. This goes alongside our increase in the use of stop and search.
I will personally demand Peterborough’s fair share of Cambridgeshire’s new police officers. An extra 62 police officers are being recruited already. Our city badly needs them and it takes an MP who will do the work to get them.
Sadly, that isn’t the case now. Labour have opposed stop and search, oppose new powers for the police, and oppose knife crime prevention orders. They are against the measures our police need to reduce serious violence.
Being tough on crime is one of the ways we can make this the best city in which to live and work in the UK.
Beki Sellick (Liberal Democrats - To Stop Brexit)
Knife crime has risen in Peterborough, like the rest of the UK, except in Glasgow where it’s 50 per cent down. I would tackle this in two ways: money and communities.
1. Money. What’s different in Glasgow (where I was working on Tuesday) is investment in youth services. Glasgow doesn’t focus on blaming young people caught carrying knives, it helps them.
Instead of prison (which can promote gangs and start lives of crime), Glasgow’s Violence Reduction unit provides “positive, safe and healthy opportunities” to prevent young people falling into gangs and violence. They spot risks and treat them early on, with youth workers, police, teachers, health professionals and social services all working closely together.
2. Communities. In Peterborough’s latest Stop and Search figures, possession of drugs and tools to carry out thefts feature alongside offensive weapons like knives. Residents share concerns with our local policing Team at our regular community café where we make time to chat and get to know our neighbours. We hear how much the police appreciate and use our reporting (phoning 101 or quickest online at www.cambs.police.uk/report).
So, putting this together, the Lib Dems have pledged to tackle knife crime by investing £500 million (of the £50 billion Remain Bonus from Stopping Brexit) into youth services. Lib Dems would provide enough money for local services and empower local people to build supportive communities, creating a culture that prevents crime.
Joseph Wells (Green Party)
As your MP I will tackle the underlying causes of knife crime, from truancy to gang culture, county lines drug-dealing, to the chronic lack of investment in youth services.
While more resources must be directed toward crime prevention, attention must also be given to the rate of reoffending that involves knife crime.
While many people who carry knives say they do so for their own protection, we must make everyone aware that carrying a knife makes you far more likely to become a victim of knife crime yourself.
The Green Party believes that investment in local youth services is the most effective way to reduce urban knife crime.
In recent years funding of our youth services has been decimated.
We must lobby government for more money for youth clubs and rehabilitation to deter our young people from carrying knives.
Tom Rogers (Christian Peoples Alliance)
Firstly, the CPA will ensure police priorities are right.
Recent reports have shown how forces are routinely screening out nearly half of all reported crimes, with the number of violent crime cases shut within 24 hours quadrupling from 11,927 to 44,548 between 2015 to 2018.
At the same time, NCPP figures show how officers wasted thousands of hours looking into almost 12,000 non-criminal so-called ‘hate incidents’, with forces being expected to follow up every ‘hate’ complaint.
This is not protecting the public.
We will ensure the police are focused on tackling genuine crime, not politically correct thought-crime.
Secondly, we need to tackle the root cultural causes of knife crime, particularly of the youth gang culture, the breeding ground for which is the ‘dad desert’ with too many boys growing up without a father or positive male role model.
To overcome this the CPA is committed to promoting marriage and strengthening the family.
Funded by our Turnover Tax we would give a £12,000 grant to first-time married couples and £6,000 upon the birth of their first child, provided they attend the required number of training sessions in marriage preparation and childcare.
We also want young people to have community mentors who can help them make the right decisions, and we’ll provide supervised activity centres for them to go to with properly funded activities.
We would resource more apprentice schemes and voluntary placements which can lead to employment.
This will help bring new hope and purpose to many young people’s lives.
Luke Ferguson (independent)
Firstly, I have to say, this is a shocking position we are in. Why people feel the need to carry a knife amazes me, but I know it happens - I’ve seen it happen. The incident in Hampton recently, close to a relative’s home, shows the desperate need for change.
So, what can we do?
There’s obviously not a straightforward answer to this, but I think we should take a two-pronged approach - we need to tackle the symptoms AND the causes of knife crime.
We should learn from best practice, like in Glasgow, where the Violence Reduction Unit halved murder rates in just 10 years by taking a holistic approach.
A focus on public health and crime prevention is critical. It will require more funding for the NHS, education and social work - things I will campaign for tirelessly. It also means we need more police on our streets with adequate powers to take action where necessary.
Above all, we need a solution for our city that is shaped by you - the people of Peterborough. This, I can promise.
As an independent MP, I will take my lead from you, Peterborough. Not Johnson or Corbyn. I will be working for the people of our fine city. I will be guided by what you say, campaigning for you, and being a real voice to deliver the change we need to see.
For more information visit www.votelukemp.co.uk.