Violent crime rising again as police commissioner warns of repeat of 2011 riots

Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Dan Hewitt

As lockdown lifts, so too have rates of violent crime and there are warnings that parts of England could face a summer of violent social unrest without immediate intervention.

In June, the West Midlands recorded more incidents of violent crime than at any point in the past 14 months, and the region’s police and crime commissioner has told ITV News he fears a repeat of the riots of 2011.

David Jamieson spoke of a "recipe for disaster" which is made up of "hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of young people out of work," and "older children not in school".

"We could see considerable social unrest," he said, "you've just got to think of 2011 when those riots just sprang from nowhere."

He added how his police force hasn't got the resource to deal with large scale disruption beyond what it's already contending with.

After a considerable drop in violent crime during lockdown, rates are rising again, with data from the Metropolitan Police showing the number of incidents fast approaching pre-Covid levels.

The children’s commissioner for England has told ITV News she is increasingly worried about the number of children falling victim to violent crime.

“Teenagers are one of these really high risk groups - these are children who may have been experiencing all sorts of activities when at home,” said Anne Longield.

“There may have been more domestic violence, more addiction, maybe more poor mental health within the home and those children now, they’re more mobile, as well as being left without that supervision and guidance, and may find themselves become targets to grooming.“That's something I'm incredibly worried about, these are children who have been out of school for 6 months, often those are the kids who weren't really enamoured with school in the first place, lots of absenteeism.

"I’m really worried that those may fall through the gaps over the coming weeks and become victims of serious violence.

“I want councils and schools and others to really identify who those children are, when they’re at risk, and then work with them and their parents to make sure they do re-engage with school and get back into that classroom in September.”

The city of Stoke-on-Trent has seen a spike in muggings and stabbings in recent weeks. 

13 year-old ‘Joe’ - not his real name - was stabbed in the city last week after a man tried to steal his wallet. 

"He went for my neck, so I put my arms in the way, I turned around to run away and he slashed me in the back," he told ITV News.

"I didn't know it had happened until the air ambulance turned up and I saw all the blood - I thought I was going to die to be fair."

He revealed how a nurse told him he would have died, had the blade entered his body "two millimetres either side and a centimetre deeper".

The boy's mum told ITV News she feels "on edge, constantly" and "angry".

"Does someone have to die, for it to be taken seriously?" she asked.

"I could be arranging for family members to come and stay so they can attend a funeral for my 13-year-old child, and it's wrong."

A group of mothers in Stoke are so worried they’ve formed their own support group.

Each of them has at least one child who has been the victim of knife crime or a violent attack in recent weeks. 

They have written to the prime minister, urging him to address rising levels of violence with the same urgency as the government is tackling coronavirus.

The group of mums has written to Boris Johnson.

The Home Office said "supporting vulnerable children and young people through the coronavirus crisis is crucial, which is why we’ve provided an additional £6.5 million to prevent them being drawn into crime and violence.

"The government has also established Violence Reduction Units in the 18 areas most affected by serious violence to ensure a more joined-up local approach to tackling this complex issue.

"As part of this, we have allocated more than £19 million to the West Midlands.

“This is addition to the most substantial increase in police funding in a decade, with more than 4,000 of the additional 20,000 police officers already on our streets.”