West Midlands’ top cop blames youth violence on deprivation, gangs and drugs

Sir David Thompson’s comments come as the region’s police and crime commissioner Simon Foster instead blamed the increase in violent crime on cuts in Government funding in policing.

The driving factors of youth crime were discussed at Tuesday’s today’s strategic police and crime board meeting at Lloyd House in Birmingham.

Sir David said: “There are a number of factors, including deprivation and gangs and drugs.

“However, that is to say not every victim of youth crime is connected with drugs and gangs, but a good chunk of the violence we see with children is to do with gangs.”

Despite the headlines being dominated by murders, stabbings and shootings across the West Midlands the Sir David said the statistics did not reflect a rising trend in every violent crime.

“There was a reduction in homicides in the first three months of the year and there has been a reduction of knife robberies against young people,” he said.

The chief constable also bemoaned reporting statistics not being reliable, claiming the force could be double counting certain crimes, and said comparisons to other forces, including the Met, could not necessarily be believed.

He said: “The data is very unreliable, we are either under-counting crimes or over-counting crimes.”

Outlining what the force is doing to combat youth violence and violent crime Sir David pointed to increasing resources on crime hotspots, early intervention with young criminals, diversion from crime work and targeting known gang members.

However, the Labour Party police and crime commissioner laid the blame at the door of central government.

Simon Foster said: “It is the first duty of government to keep its people safe and secure. Over the past decade there has been a serious breach of that duty. That has had and continues to have catastrophic and devastating consequences. In recent weeks there have some awful and tragic events. My thoughts are with the victims, families, friends and communities that have been affected.

“Over the past decade, central government recklessly defunded our police, preventative public services and criminal justice system. That has undoubtedly contributed to the rise in violent crime. The prevention and reduction of violent crime is a top priority for me in my police and crime plan.”

Mr Foster added: “We need robust, operational policing to prevent and tackle violent crime, particularly in relation to those people who are intent on causing harm to others. However, policing cannot prevent and tackle violent crime on its own. We also need prevention, early intervention and to address the underlying causes of crime.

“We have a violence reduction partnership, bringing together partners and agencies to prevent and tackle violent crime. We are working in schools, Accident and Emergency departments, we have rescue workers and outreach workers supporting victims of county lines and we have youth workers on routes to school as part of the Step Together project.

“I also fund a network of weapons surrender bins. I am committed to constant and unremitting action to prevent violent crime, protect people and save lives.”

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