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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 August 2007, 13:38 GMT 14:38 UK
'Urgency needed' on knife crime
John Denham
Mr Denham cited alcohol as a major cause of violence
There must be greater urgency behind the fight to tackle knife crime and anti-social behaviour, the innovation, universities and skills secretary says.

"The knife crime we have seen recently and some of the drunken behaviour - we are not where we need to be on those issues," John Denham told BBC News.

Mr Denham pointed to "powerful new legislation" to fight the problem.

His comments came as the latest teenage knife victim was named as 16-year-old Andrew Holland from Greater Manchester.

Stabbed in neck

Andrew collapsed after his lung was punctured when he was stabbed in the neck outside a takeaway on Friday night. He later died in hospital.

His friend, who is also aged 16 and who has not been named, was also stabbed and is in a serious condition in Rochdale Infirmary.

A 21-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder and assault and remains in custody for questioning.

Mr Denham said there were deeper problems underlying the rise in street violence, and perseverance was essential.

Andrew Holland
Andrew died from a stab wound to the neck which punctured his chest

He said: "Where there are underlying problems, like the acceptance of gang culture among young people, knife carrying or too-readily-available alcohol to young people, we have got to carry on until we have beaten the problem.

"We have very powerful new legislation in place for the police to use to tackle these problems."

Mr Denham added that he was very concerned "about the heavy, heavy promotion of discounted alcohol and the culture that goes around that".

"I personally - not as a minister I've got to say, but personally, as somebody who looked at these issues in the past - hope that that's something we're going to look at in the future."

Increasing numbers of people do not think twice about slipping a knife into their pocket
Norman Brennan, Victims of Crime Trust

Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said: "It took two years for the government to wake up to the massive explosion in knife crime and concede to Conservative calls for an increase in the penalty for carrying knives.

"The government owes it to the public to take a grip of drink, drugs, and the broken homes that have spawned this plague on modern Britain."

The director of the Victims of Crime Trust, Norman Brennan, said he believed there was now "a national crisis with knife crime".

He said: "Why is it that increasing numbers of people do not think twice about slipping a knife into their pocket before they leave the house?

'Feral youngsters'

Mr Brennan suggested three ways to tackle the problem.

He said there should be mandatory five-year sentences for carrying a knife, mass stop-and-searches and the introduction of national or community service.

"And police should take community leaders with them so they can see the feral youngsters who are roaming our streets.

"We need to introduce something to occupy the disenfranchised young people. Whether that is national service or mandatory community-based work, it would help."

A youth speaks of seeing his father attacked

Boy, 16, killed in stabbing named
19 Aug 07 |  Manchester
Concern at knife crime increase
07 Jun 07 |  South of Scotland
Knife users get longer jail terms
20 Mar 07 |  Scotland

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