Knife crime has become a kind of barometer of social good and whether things really are in fact getting better, as Tony Blair’s cultural revolution promised. The BBC’s Mark Easton has over the years made a point of claiming a decline of such crime, and yet it persists in returning.
London at the moment is experiencing a horrifying spike in this criminal activity and among young people. Hospital doctors are reporting lower and lower ages of victims: this seems to be a youth phenomenon. Theresa May was Home Secretary throughout the Conservative and Lib Dem coalition government and through David Cameron’s administration, and so has a considerable responsibility for the situation, as does the Labour Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.
The strategy of ‘stop and search’ of possible suspects for carrying weapons has been a longstanding bone of contention. It is criticised on the grounds that the vast majority of those stopped and searched tend to be black youths and they feel alienated and picked on for their race, so it has been deemed unfair and counter-productive. Mrs May’s policy was to ease off this strategy and some commentators think this was a mistake.
She is also being criticised for cutting resources to the police, and the current Home Secretary Amber Rudd has pushed back at the accusation that police shortages have been a contributory factor in the surge of knife crime. She points out that knife crime was highest when police numbers were highest in 2008, and so rejects the idea that more police will quell the phenomenon. Sadiq Kahn has said that the Metropolitan Police will not be prevented by political correctness from stopping and searching on strong evidence.
Mrs Rudd says that she is introducing legislation to hinder the availability of weapons such as knives and acid – a form of terrible attack that has evidently been imported from South East Asian cultures, virtually unknown in the UK until recently. Home Secretaries are also responsible for the inward migration of such cultural novelties. Mrs Rudd says that the illegal drug trading culture among young people is a primary driver of London’s surge in youth violence as gangs battle for supremacy. She thinks that research will be able to produce evidence that will damp down gangland drug-fuelled violence.
From a Christian angle we must ask whether the consistent push back against Christian faith in the public forum is not part of this nightmare? Since New Labour, the notion that Christianity has no part in a modern secular social fabric has been dogmatically enforced, and just as strongly by the modern Conservative Party. The black Pentecostal churches are absolutely crucial in this battle to save young black lives. We saw the government help remove God from the Girl Guides’ promise of allegiance, and similarly churches need again to be welcomed in from the bleak secular cold and helped to reach out to hopeless youngsters caught up in the spirals of hate and drugs. Dismissing Christianity as irrelevant has proved to be desperately destructive in youth culture.