The following comments have all been made in major debates in the House of Commons and Westminster Hall involving the area’s three MPs – and MPs in neighbouring constituencies over the past week.
KNIFE CRIME: “I heard stories which broke my heart, including about policemen battling to save a life by putting their fingers in a wound to stop the streaming blood. “The boy survived only to be picked up the very next week while out looking for revenge”. – Sarah Jones, Croydon Central MP.
HOUSING: “Both my local councils, Southwark and Lambeth, tell me that the number of residents seeking help from the council because their tenancy has come to an end or they face an impossible increase in their rent has gone up by hundreds of cases every year, and I see struggling tenants living in impossible circumstances in my surgeries every week”. – Helen Hayes, Labour, Dulwich and West Norwood MP.
BLACKLISTING: “Will the Minister explain why on earth, given its disgraceful role in blacklisting, we are giving Sir Robert McAlpine the contract to fix the bongs of Big Ben, which so many parliamentarians have shed tears over?” – Chuka Umunna, Labour, Streatham MP.
What follows is in-depth coverage of those debates.
KNIFE CRIME IN CROYDON – ONE: “I HEARD STORIES WHICH BROKE MY HEART…..” – MP
Many of our children now see the carrying of knives and the exploitation of men and women as normal, says Croydon Central MP Sarah Jones.
“They see a world that, in many ways, we do not see” she told a House of Commons adjournment debate on knife crime.
“I spent much of the summer talking to people in Croydon about knife crime, trying to understand why it has almost doubled in the past year.
“I spoke to young people involved in criminal gangs, youth workers who work with young people, local organisations that go into schools, mentor children, help provide advice and support or just give some love, and to the police, the local council, football clubs in local communities, large charities and tiny, two-person organisations in Croydon.
“I want to thank them all for their time and for what they do. They are all incredibly inspiring and strong.
“I heard stories which broke my heart, including about policemen battling to save a life by putting their fingers in a wound to stop the streaming blood. “The boy survived only to be picked up the very next week while out looking for revenge.
“I heard about young people who have been in care all their lives and find their only sense of love and belonging when they are in a gang; girls whose boyfriends ask them to carry their knives, and they do it because they believe that is what is expected of them; and horrific images of stabbings, of strippings, shown far and wide on social media.
“I was told of older men grooming young boys to carry drugs or commit other crimes with the promises of great riches that never materialised.
“But this summer I also met towering figures who are giving their all to fight this problem, and some amazing young people who, against the odds, have turned their lives around. “I was inspired and I learned a huge amount.
“The third thing that I discovered over the summer is that the problem stretches beyond the children who are involved in crime and who carry knives themselves.
“Teenagers are growing up attending the funerals of school friends, with parents who are under-supported or overworked, and often both. “Those children have growing anxiety and fewer ways to express it.
“A counselling service in my borough described deep-seated traumas among a growing number of young people, with half of the people who made up its case load having experienced suicidal thoughts.
“Many of our children now see the carrying of knives and the exploitation of men and women as normal. “They see a world that, in many ways, we do not see.
“The fourth fact that I learned is that the issue is complex.
“We cannot just say: ‘This is about kids in gangs who want to make money.’ “In fact, most knife crime is not gang-related. “The causes range from policing, to jobs and training, to education, mental health and youth service provision; from silos in the care system to social media, parenting and street design.
“Every crime is different, every cause is different and every response must be adapted.
“My fifth finding is that we know what works. “A lot of people are already showing us the way, working hard and finding the answers.
“Although the picture is complex and the scale of the problem pretty big, there is a lot of evidence about what works and what needs to be done. “I would not be standing here today if I did not think we could develop cross-party consensus about what needs to happen and how to tackle knife crime.
“The case that I want to make today is that we are simply not doing enough to tackle this blight on the lives of individuals and communities. “I say that while welcoming the Home Secretary’s recent promise to crack down in law on the online sale of knives.
“I also welcome the continued commitment to Operation Sceptre by police forces up and down the country.”
(Note: Operation Sceptre was launched by the Met in July 2015 with the aim of reducing knife crime and the number families affected by knife crime across the whole of London. The Met’s website says the launch was designed to coincide with new legislation that means that those convicted of carrying a knife for the second time will face a mandatory custodial sentence. Operation Sceptre seeks to target not only those who carry and use knives, but also the supply, access and importation of weapons, it adds.- Ed.)
(Source: TheyWorkForYou website. Adjournment debate on knife crime, House of Commons September 6th)