More than £5 million has been pledged to tackle serious youth violence from April 2010 as the Tackling Knives and Serious Youth Violence Action Programme (TKAP) is extended for another year, Home Office Minister David Hanson MP announced yesterday.
The third phase of the programme will build on previous successes in reducing serious violence and will operate in 52 areas, which have voluntarily signed up, to undertake targeted action to reduce serious youth violence among 13 to 24 year olds.
The funding will support tough enforcement alongside education and prevention programmes and build on the work of TKAP so far, which includes:
• an increase in stops and searches including extra mobile knife scanners – combined with a national move to a presumption of prosecution for knife possession and a significant fall in the use of cautions;
• nights of intensive enforcement and prevention action – resulting in over 600 arrests, discovery of three cannabis farms, seizure of a shotgun and 22 knives in the past two months alone;
• improved information sharing – more than 100 hospitals sharing data with police on knife and serious youth violence-related admissions, helping them to target local problems;
• the roll-out of the knife crime prevention programme – an education programme for all young offenders convicted of a knife related crime which is on track to reach 2,000 young offenders; and
• prevention work – education sessions for more than 200,000 young people to make them aware of the dangers of knives, and a public information campaign worked on by young people themselves.
Home Office Minister David Hanson MP said:
“The funding announced today will be a major contribution to tackling knife crime and serious youth violence.
“We have made encouraging progress since we launched the programme. Between April and September 2009 we saw murder using a knife fall by 34 per cent, compared to the same period the previous year.
“This is the result of the hard work, dedication and focussed action by police and partner agencies across the country.
“We remain absolutely committed to tackling this complex issue so I am pleased to be announcing today that we will be continuing the TKAP programme for another year. By working together we will clamp down on the small minority of people who commit these crimes and help make our towns and communities safer.”
The announcement comes in the same week as the government and Families United, a charitable organisation representing the families of victims of knife crime, launched a new campaign Count Me In: Together We Can Stop Knife Crime.
The funding includes £4 million allocated to 22 police forces including the British Transport Police for use in 52 areas across the country. In addition, £1.5 million has already been pledged to more than 150 community organisations for work this year in TKAP areas.
The starting sentence for murder with a knife that is taken to the scene recently increased from 15 years to 25 years and new legal powers for police and councils to target the most violent gang members will come into force later this year.
Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) lead on TKAP, Assistant Chief Constable, Sue Fish said:
“TKAP has been a success in reducing serious violent offences involving young people. The police service has worked closely with partners at a local and national level including education, health and local authorities as well as non-governmental organisations to deliver results locally.
“ACPO is keen to support this continued joined-up approach to tackling serious youth violence and reducing harm and serious injury across a large number of force areas.”
There has been progress in tackling serious violence. Crime statistics show:
a 41 per cent reduction in violent crime since 1997;
the lowest number of murders involving firearms recorded by the police in 20 years;
a 7 per cent fall in recorded knife crime from April to September 2009 compared with the same period the previous year including a 34 per cent fall in murder with a knife.