Home Secretary to meet police chiefs after stabbing deaths of two teenagers

Sajid Javid will meet police chiefs to discuss violent crime amid a series of brutal stabbings around the country.

The Home Secretary will chair the Chief Constables roundtable following the high-profile deaths of two 17-year-olds.

The event on Wednesday will include police chiefs from the areas most affected by knife crime.

It comes after the fatal stabbing of 17-year-old Jodie Chesney in an east London park on Friday night in what her family branded a “totally random and unprovoked attack”.

It was the 18th homicide in the capital in 2019, a total that stood at 20 by the end of the weekend.

A 17-year-old boy who was stabbed to death in the village of Hale Barns, near Altrincham, in Greater Manchester, on Saturday night was named by police as Yousef Ghaleb Makki.

Also over the weekend, a man was charged with murder over the fatal stabbing of Che Morrison, 20, outside an east London railway station on Tuesday.

A man was arrested in connection with two stabbings in central London late on Saturday night and early on Sunday that left two people with life-threatening injuries.

And police named a man who is fighting for his life after a “horrific attack” when he was stabbed in Enfield, north London, on Tuesday.

London homicides in 2019
(PA Graphics)

The incidents follow three teenagers dying in knife attacks in two weeks in Birmingham, leading to West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson branding it a “national emergency”.

Hazrat Umar, 17, was killed in Bordesley Green on Monday; Abdullah Muhammad, 16, died in Small Heath the previous week, and seven days earlier Sidali Mohamed, 16, was stabbed outside a college in Highgate.

Mr Javid said: “Young people are being murdered across the country and it can’t go on.

“We’re taking action on many fronts and I’ll be meeting police chiefs this week to hear what more can be done.

“It is vital that we unite to stop this senseless violence.”

The Home Office said it set out a range of actions to tackle violent crime in October including a £200 million youth endowment fund.

It also consulted on a new legal duty to underpin a public health approach to tackling serious violence, and an independent review of drug misuse.

An extra £970 million in police funding is proposed in the funding settlement for 2019-20, the Home Office said.

It added that the Offensive Weapons Bill currently before Parliament will introduce new offences to tackle knife crime and acid attacks.

Harold Hill fatal stabbing
Police officers search near the scene on St Neot’s Road in Harold Hill, east London following the fatal stabbing of Jodie Chesney (PA)

The Home Office also said the serious violence taskforce, chaired by the Home Secretary and including other ministers, MPs, police leaders and the London Mayor, meets regularly to oversee and drive delivery of the serious violence strategy.

The strategy, published last year, focuses on steering young people away from a life of crime, while continuing to promote a strong law enforcement response, it added.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock disputed a previous suggestion by London Mayor Sadiq Khan that knife crime was a “public health issue”.

The causes of violent crime are complex. City Hall's new Violence Reduction Unit takes a fundamentally different approach – bringing experts from police, health, councils, charities and communities together to help stop serious violence. https://t.co/xrqQIFb0uB

— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) March 4, 2019

“It’s a crime issue. People stabbing people, first and foremost, is a crime and you’ve got to hold the perpetrators to justice and accountable,” he told LBC.

“If you try to say that it’s a public health issue that implies that it’s nobody’s fault. The criminals who are murderers, it’s their fault and that’s got to be the starting point.

“Now we should take a broad approach to how we tackle it, looking at all of the different causes and all the actions that we can take and Sadiq Khan himself could do with taking some actions here in London.”

Mr Hancock said he was “pretty surprised” to read newspaper reports that Mr Khan is out of the country on holiday.

“Politicians need to have holidays, that is true,” he said.

“But there are also moments of crisis when if you are in a big job with heavy responsibilities then there are times when you need to be there and acting.”