Nine young lives have been lost to violent crime in West Ham since January 2017.
That’s nine teenagers and young adults, with their whole lives ahead of them. Their valuable lives were needlessly, tragically stolen from us. Nine lost children are mourned by their families every single day.
It’s not just in Newham. There were 1,296 stabbings in London from January to April 2018 and 39,598 attacks involving knives or sharp instruments across all of England and Wales.
Some of this violence stems from organised crime. Adults groom our children, mostly our boys, and send them off to deliver and sell drugs, all over the country. It’s a modern-day version of sending children up chimneys: disposable children making big profits for the criminals who control them.
To me, it seems that those who run the drugs market, exploiting and endangering our children, somehow elude the law. We catch and prosecute those involved at the local level, but people at the top of criminal organisations remain at large.
It isn’t surprising that we struggle to deal with well-organised crime, given the numbers of police officers we’ve lost under the Tories. Since 2010, over 21,000 police officers have been cut from the service. It is a disgrace. It leaves us without the resources to keep our communities, particularly our children, safe from harm and safe from those grooming them into careers as young drug pushers, destroying their life chances and stealing their futures.
Things can be done to support our children and our police. I speak about them in Parliament; but, in truth, to stamp out violent crime, we must first stamp out its root causes: poverty and deprivation. Our children often have little hope for their futures. They’ve watched their parents working so hard, yet earning barely enough to pay exorbitant rents and put food on the table.
We owe it to our children to create a fairer country, one that offers them hope for a future. This government simply must do more to return safety and stability to our streets, granting our children the safer childhood and adolescence they deserve.