My Week in Westmister

The incidents of knife crime in the news recently are horrifying.

We need a nationwide strategy to protect people, especially our young people, from the catastrophic fallout from knife incidents.

We must adopt a public health approach to knife crime – this process has worked before, notably in Scotland.

Yes, police officer numbers fell when the parlous state of the nation’s finances were revealed back in 2010 – but they are back on the rise now and more on that later in this column.

When it comes to knife crime, it is not good enough to simply demand more police officers on the streets to act as a deterrent.

That is already accepting defeat and that young people will go out armed with a knife.

We need to educate young people in our homes, in our schools, with parents, police, teachers and health and social workers to make sure they are fully aware of the dangers of carrying a knife.

The message needs to be stark and simple: if you carry a knife, you are more likely to be injured by a knife. You will be a target of the police. You will go to jail. You will cause untold damage not just to others, but to your own family as well.

On policing, I met this week with Lancashire’s deputy police and crime commissioner.

I was extremely pleased to hear that officer numbers are on the way back up after some difficult years for the force.

I understand there are around 100 extra frontline officers and 70 support staff on the way across Lancashire, including two drone operating units. They have been used to great effect when children have been reported missing.

These units can be deployed quickly and can offer huge amounts of information to help officers on the ground.

It is clear mental health issues are taking a great deal of officers time, and I still believe there are more opportunities for health agencies to work more closely with police to alleviate these pressures.

I also held a meeting with Fylde’s farming community this week at Kirkham Conservative Club. It was great to see so many people attend the meeting and I was able to give farmers an update on many aspects of Brexit.

They had many questions about the uncertainty we face as we head towards the end of March, with no consensus as yet in Parliament over the deal on the table.