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26 April 2019, 14:56 | Updated: 26 April 2019, 15:00
Police, MPs, and families of knife crime victims have met in Birmingham to discuss innovative ways to tackle knife crime.
More than 30 people attended including 14 MPs, senior police and health service experts and families of victims.
#WATCH West Midlands MPs, @WMPolice and families of victims of knife crime have met to discuss what can be done about the problem.— Capital Brum News (@CapitalBIRNews) April 26, 2019
We’ve spoken to Mark Brindley, who’s son Ryan was stabbed in #Aldridge in 2017...#CapitalReports pic.twitter.com/oXCKVr3pEI
The summit was called after the West Midlands experienced one of the country’s largest increases in knife crime - with an 85% rise since 2012. This led to the West Midlands being one of the earliest adopters of a ‘public health approach’ to violence through the West Midlands Violence Prevention Alliance (WMVPA). The public health approach pioneered by Scotland’s Violence Reduction Unit has since been adopted by the Mayor of London.
The WMVPA was set up in 2015 and is funded by the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner with the support of West Midlands Police and Public Health England (PHE) West Midlands. A joint police and PHE team work with organisations such as councils, hospitals and charities to help them to provide services that will prevent violence, using best practice and evidence of where violence takes place.
The APPG on Knife Crime, supported by Redthread and Barnardo’s, aims to develop cross-party consensus from parliamentarians around new approaches to tackling knife crime, with particular focus on prevention and early intervention.
Sarah Jones, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Knife Crime, said:
“Knife crime is a public health crisis. The only way we will stem the tide of violence is by treating it like a disease: intervening with those most affected and immunising the next generation.
“We know knife crime is a major concern for people in the West Midlands but it’s really important to see the work being done here to treat violence as a public health issue. The safety of our young people must be our number one priority.”
The Assistant Police and Crime Commissioner, Ashley Bertie, said:
“The Violence Prevention Alliance is an innovative scheme which has been designed to tackle the root causes of crime.
“It ensures the police, health service and voluntary sector all work together to prevent violence and keep our community safe.
“In 2016 the Police and Crime Commissioner set up a task force – known as the Commission on Gangs and Violence - to look into what was behind the rise in violent crime. It concluded that, with knife crime up significantly since 2012, we can’t simply arrest our way out of the problem. Instead we must intervene at the earliest possible point to help people make the right life choices and give them the support needed to be productive and integrate into society.”
Assistant Chief Constable Sarah Boycott, co chair of the WMVPA commented: “We’re under no illusion about the fear that knife crime causes and the misery it inflicts, particularly on young people. While we’re not letting up in our efforts to seize weapons and arrest those who think it’s acceptable to carry them, it’s absolutely vital that knife crime is tackled by parents, teachers, health care professionals, youth support workers and others.
That’s why it is so important we work together to bring meaningful change by educating young people, listening to their concerns, and protecting them from harm.”