‘Government has lost control’ on knife crime, says Starmer

Keir Starmer has said the government has “lost control” on knife crime while visiting a Bristol high school

Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, said his “heart goes out” to the families of the two teenagers who were stabbed to death in Knowle West, and pledged action if his party gets into power.

Pupils at Hanham Woods Academy grilled Mr Starmer and Damien Egan, the Labour candidate in the upcoming Kingswood by-election, about their plans for young people, during a visit to the school on Thursday, February 1. Safety, mental health and climate change came up as top concerns.

The pair began in a Year Seven classroom at the school Mr Egan attended as a teenager, before heading to the library to take questions from a range of year groups, and then later speaking to reporters including the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Mr Starmer said: “My heart goes out to the family and friends of these two young boys, 16-years-old and 15-years-old. I have a 15-year-old boy and we’ve been talking to 15-year-old and 16-year-old children in this school. We have a real problem with this government, knife crime has gone up 77 per cent since 2015, so the government has clearly lost control.”

Sir Keir Starmer with pupils

The two teenagers Max Dixon and Mason Rist were attacked on Saturday night (January 27) and died from their injuries in the early hours of Sunday morning. Their deaths follow several fatal stabbings in Bristol last year, and local councillors have called for more government action to clamp down on knife crime.

“We’ve got to take it more seriously,” Mr Starmer said. “What I would do is three things. Firstly, ban the online sale of knives like zombie knives. That can be done very quickly, very easily. The government has announced that it’s going to do it 17 times, but still hasn’t done it.

“The second thing I would do is make sure we have a young futures programme, which would, with other experts and support agencies, reach some of the young people who are getting drawn into knife crime and take them back out of that, before they get involved.

“The third thing is, for those who do carry knives, be absolutely clear that if you carry the knife, you carry the consequences. Because at the moment, the sanctions available aren’t being used consistently or in some cases not really at all. We’ve got a plan to deal with this, but we cannot go on with these tragic stories.”

By Alex Seabrook, Local Democracy Reporter