PM blames violent crime on problem families

Boris at HMP Leeds - Getty
Boris at HMP Leeds - Getty
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A hardcore of “problem families" is to blame for violent crime and need to be tackled, the Prime Minister has claimed.

Boris Johnson said that his Government would focus on addressing what he called “a small number” of families who produce children who are drawn into a world of serious criminality.

Boris shown around HMP Leeds by staff - Getty

Boris shown around HMP Leeds by staff - Getty

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During a visit to HM Prison Leeds in Armley, Mr Johnson vowed to deliver a package of measures which would help find ways to give young people self-esteem in avenues away from crime.

Recent data showed that West Yorkshire had the highest rate of knife and sharp incident crime outside London last year.

Boris shown around HMP Leeds by staff - Getty

Boris shown around HMP Leeds by staff - Getty

There were 4,496 knife and sharp incident offences in Yorkshire and the Humber for the year ending September 2018, 60 per cent of which took place in West Yorkshire.

Mr Johnson said the new Violence Reduction Units would form a central part of this process, alongside increased numbers of police officers and enhanced security in the prison system,

He also defended the use of the controversial Stop and Search technique, something he said was highly effective in getting deadly weapons off of the streets.

Mr Johnson said: “There is nothing more kind or more loving that you can do, when a kid is going out equipped with a bladed weapon, walking down the street, a threat to his life and others, than to take that knife off of him.

Boris shown around HMP Leeds by staff - Getty

Boris shown around HMP Leeds by staff - Getty

“Stop and search works. But has also got to be part of an holistic strategy to encourage kids to find other ways of expressing themselves, get them away from crime and get them off the conveyer belt.”

He added: “If you look at the type of kids that are drawn into violent crime, they come from a very small number of families. In any borough of any area in the country there will always be a small number of problem families who really are likely to produce the kids who are likely to go off the rails.

“That is why we want the Violence Reduction Units to bring together all of the agencies, whether its the police, social services - you name it - they can concentrate on those kids and help steer them on to the right path, get them apprenticeships, get them employment, get them an other means of self-esteem. There are so many ways of giving people better self-esteem than getting involved in crime.”

Mr Johnson was in Leeds on the day he pledged an additional £100m to boost security in Britain’s prisons, Mr Johnson said the recent work done at HM Leeds had delivered a significant reduction in drugs and mobile phones being smuggled in to the prison population.

Boris shown around HMP Leeds by staff - Getty

Boris shown around HMP Leeds by staff - Getty

However Mr Johnson denied the move was a tactic designed to curry favour with voters ahead of a potential General Election during the Autumn but rather creating a more modern and effective criminal justice system.

Mr Johnson said: “My job is to make sure that yours and everybody’s streets are safer.

“That is why we need 20,000 additional police officers out on the streets. But there is no point in asking the police to arrest more people, to tackle serious and violent crime if they have nowhere to put those people in jail.

“We are going to have thousands more places for people convicted of serious violent crime and sexual offences.

“But I don’t want to have jails just to be factories that make bad people worse. There is too much violence in our prisons, there is too much of a culture of drugs and too much gangsterism.

"But the way to tackle it is to have better screening and that when people are coming into jails they are not concealing drugs or mobiles in their alimentary canal, not to put to fine a point on it.

“And there are ways of doing this. We are putting money into this.”