Over the past few months, we have witnessed an increase in serious violence across the UK and particularly here in the West Midlands.
We are now in the midst of a knife crime epidemic. Knife crime in the region has risen 85 per cent since 2012 and gun crime is up by a third over the same period.
On Monday (April 1), I travelled to Downing Street for the Prime Minister’s Serious Violence Summit. I was there to add my voice to the debate and explain the work we are doing in the West Midlands.
While we clearly need a long term funding solution for the West Midlands to provide further policing, this is not an issue that we will arrest our way out of. As well as an increased policing presence we need to tackle the root causes of violence.
At the summit I once again raised the need for swift action on exclusions. There was agreement that these are linked to the increase in violent crime and the Secretary of State for Education received my intervention warmly.
I have been leading a national campaign on school exclusions and the links to violent youth crime. The West Midlands has followed a national trend, which has seen an increase in the number of pupils being excluded from school.
The number of permanently excluded children in the region has almost doubled from 440 in 2010 to 727 in 2017.
As a governor at a Solihull school and a former head teacher, I understand that safety of students and staff whilst at school, must be a top priority. Headteachers must reserve the right to remove disruptive or dangerous pupils from schools.
However, permanent exclusion can mean that young people ignored by the education system, leaving them vulnerable to recruitment by gangs, into violent crime.
Providing alternative provisions for excluded children, is one of the ways in which we can begin to tackle the issue of knife crime, along with additional funding for policing and preventative services. The summit recognised my call for long-term, sustainable programmes to tackle the issue of violent crime.
I have funded schemes which place youth workers in hospitals to break the cycle of violence, knife crime workshops and mentors in schools. However, we need the further funding to scale this work up, to make more of a difference in our communities.
The Government has at last recognised the scale of the issue, they now need to take action.
David Jamieson, Police and Crime Commissioner