The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Rev Alan Smith, has urged a “much more ambitious approach” in tackling knife crime.
In the House of Lords, he said: “We need a much more ambitious approach so that, in the words of the Prophet Isaiah, swords are turned into ploughshares or—to put it into modern language—knives are turned into tools to capture the passion and energy of these young people whose lives are being blighted at the very point when we need their contribution more than ever. Will Her Majesty’s Government commit to a public health approach to this problem, encompassing reducing poverty, increasing youth services and strengthening community policing?"
He was speaking in a debate on knife crime, in which Baroness Williams of Trafford responded on behlf of the Government.
She said: "I say to the right reverend Prelate that that is the only way to go. Knife crime problems are not caused by any one source and there is no magic area where we can deploy interventions. It has got to be a multiagency, public health approach, as the right reverend Prelate says."
Police-recorded offences involving a knife or sharp instrument rose to 46,265 for the year to March, up from 43,706 in the previous 12 months, according to information released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released last week.
This was 51% higher than when data of this kind was first collected in 2010/11 (30,620) and is the highest number on record, the report said.
Tory former Lord Chancellor Lord Mackay of Clashfern said that while police used stop and search powers to try and combat the problem, its operation “appears to be strongly biased against black people”, and questioned what could be done to address this.
Lady Williams said: “It does appear to be used disproportionately towards black and Asian young people.
“Of course they are the victims quite often in all this.
“No-one should be stopped and searched based on their race or ethnicity.”
She added: “The Metropolitan Police is quite sure that their increase in stop and search has in fact helped stem knife crime injuries to under-75s, although the figures are just not good enough yet.
“The Home Office is collecting more data now on stop and search than ever before, including the race of the person searched and what they were searched for.”