After the tragic fatal stabbing of 24-year-old Tyler Roye on Stroud Green Way in the early hours of last Thursday morning, knife crime continues to be a top priority for me. I am deeply saddened by these events and I would urge anyone with any information to get in touch with the Metropolitan Police immediately. A man was arrested on Sunday 1st March on suspicion of murder.
On Wednesday 26th February I hosted a Westminster Hall debate on school exclusions. The APPG on Knife Crime recently released a report into the link between school exclusions and knife crime. I had received many stories from constituents and members of the wider public about their personal experiences of school exclusions, which I was pleased to be able to bring to the attention of the Minister present. Since 2012/13 there has been a 70% rise in permanent exclusions and a 54% rise in fixed-period exclusions. One third of all local authorities have no spaces in their state funded pupil referral units. Children with special educational needs make up 45% of all permanent exclusions and 43% of all fixed-period exclusions. These are shocking figures which inevitably result in a great number of vulnerable children experiencing often unnecessary and damaging disruption to their lives. I called on the government to listen to the recommendations made in the APPG on Knife Crime’s report.
On Wednesday 26th February I held a joint event with the APPG for Drug Policy Reform looking into county lines drugs trafficking and the impact of the illicit drugs market on levels of serious violence. MPs present heard both of lived experience of county lines as well as findings from data collection. We heard that the potency and quantity supplied of illicit drugs was rising, whilst convictions related to drugs offences were down. Evidence showed that this expansion of the illicit drugs market was seeing many vulnerable youngsters being groomed by criminal gangs. The underfunding of our police force over the past decade has not helped this situation at all.
I also attended the launch of YouTube original documentary ‘Terms & Conditions: A UK Drill Story’ on Tuesday 26th February. The documentary investigates the link between drill music and knife crime. I sat on the panel at the event and it was fascinating to hear differing opinions on the matter - the link is certainly not so simple as some in the current Government like to pretend.