Julia Lopez quite rightly used her position as MP for Harold Hill to raise the issue of the murder of 17 year-old Jodie Chesney. What’s interesting is that her questions became subtly different in the three days from 4th-6th March.
Her question to James Brokenshire asked, “If the Government’s serious violence strategy is to work, we need confidence that all parts of the system are adequately resourced, including councils’ children’s services and social services.”1
Brokenshire replied, “In the last couple of weeks, I have provided £9.8 million for a fund supporting families against youth crime, to help workers to intervene early to prevent such senseless violence.” He clearly believes there is a connexion between resources and knife crime. This is denied by Theresa May.
Compare her question to Brokenshire with the one Julia Lopez asked Theresa May on the 6th March (full text in Addendum),2
“The public do not want to see politicians throw blame at one another for these stolen lives; they want to see them take responsibility for what is within their control, provide resource if resource is necessary and then demonstrate a relentless and total commitment to snuffing out violent crime.”
Julia Lopez on Monday 4th March demanded, “….we need confidence that all parts of the system are adequately resourced…” On the 6th March she said, “…provide resource if resource is necessary…” Julia Lopez had been told after her question to Brokenshire that the government’s police reduction programme had nothing to do with increased knife crime. This programme has reduced police numbers by 21,000 in the period of austerity, 2010-19.
The government’s protestations that reductions in police numbers don’t exacerbate knife crime have been trashed by two former Police Commissioners, Stevens and Hogan-Howe, as well as the current Police Commissioner. Nine Police and Crime Commissioners on the 7th March 2019 also denied Theresa May’s self-serving analysis.
Julia Lopez is a rebel when it comes to Europe but she is also a party loyalist in every other respect.
ADDENDUM: Julia Lopez’S question to Theresa May (Prime Minister) 6th March 2019
Julia Lopez It was with profound sadness that I saw my constituency this week join the all-too-long list of areas across our country to have lost a precious young person to knife crime. The public do not want to see politicians throw blame at one another for these stolen lives; they want to see them take responsibility for what is within their control, provide resource if resource is necessary and then demonstrate a relentless and total commitment to snuffing out violent crime. I welcome the announcement of an emergency summit, but what action will the Prime Minister be taking after that constantly to drive performance on these issues until we get the result the public rightly demand—to keep children safe?
Theresa May May I say to my hon. Friend, as I did earlier, that any death of a young person at the hands of violence is a terrible tragedy? I recognise, as she says, that her constituency has seen just one of the latest examples of a young life cut short far too early. I also say to her that, yes, as I said, what we are doing is bringing together Ministers, local government, police and others—other agencies. This needs to be a cross-society approach to deal with this issue, because it is not just about catching the perpetrators of the crime; it is about preventing the crime from taking place in the first place.
That is one of the reasons why the Government will be launching a consultation on addressing this as a public health issue. There has been excellent work done under what was Strathclyde police force, now Police Scotland, looking at and using the public health approach. What that does is ensure that all agencies—not just across Government, but in local government and elsewhere—are able to be brought together to deal with this issue. What I want to do at that summit is to hear directly from those agencies what further action the Government can take3, which we can then put in place to deal with the issue.
Brokenshire is Secretary of state for housing, communities and local government
Theresa May’s answer to Julia Lopez’s question is markedly different to her initial reply, 4th March, when she denied knife crime was related to ‘resources’.
3 Philip Hammond the Chancellor has said that no more money will be made available to the police. Let’s remind ourselves that Theresa May’s majority is dependent on the £100 million per vote deal with the DUP.