Knife ASBOs won’t protect our children

Our country is in the grip of an epidemic of serious violence. Barely a day goes by without news of another fatal stabbing on our streets. Far too many of the victims are children.

Knife ASBOs will criminalise young people and put them in prison on pointless short-term sentences

The Liberal Democrats are clear about the solution. More community police officers, and a proper public health approach that brings together the police, youth services, schools and the NHS. Only a united effort like this can turn young people away from gangs and violence.

But the Tories’ response is to effectively reintroduce the ASBO. They want ‘Knife Crime Prevention Orders’ to impose on children as young as 12 – even if they haven’t committed a crime. Breach of an order could mean a prison sentence of up to 2 years.

Labour’s ASBOs didn’t work to tackle anti-social behaviour, and these new knife ASBOs won’t work either. They will criminalise young people and put them in prison on pointless short-term sentences. It’s yet more waste of valuable police time and resources.

Brian Paddick has led the opposition to these orders in the House of Lords. The Liberal Democrat peers voted against them on Tuesday night, and we’d have won if only Labour had joined us. But they didn’t. Just 17 of the 186 Labour peers turned up to vote.

The Liberal Democrats demand better for the victims of knife crime and their families. We will continue to oppose these counterproductive proposals when they come before the Commons. We demand a real solution to the shocking rise of serious violence.