Speaking in a debate on the Offensive Weapons Bill, Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown highlights the value of knife prevention orders.
May I congratulate my hon. Friend most sincerely on producing a much needed Bill? Acid, knives and certain firearms are issues that we absolutely need to crack down on. Does she agree that knife prevention orders are a good mechanism? It is becoming de rigueur in some of our cities for people to carry knives in self-defence, in case they might want to use them, which is totally the wrong culture. With these orders, the police will be able to warn youngsters that if they carry knives again, they will be subject to an order and could be subject to a criminal penalty if they breach it.
My hon. Friend summarises the orders succinctly, and I thank him for all his work on the Bill. The point of the orders is to try to reach those children before they are in the criminal justice system. They include, for example, the ability to prohibit a child from accessing social media or entering certain postcodes, because we know the tensions arising on the streets from particular groups of young people in certain parts of our large cities. This is not about criminalising those young people; it is about trying to reach them.
Does the hon. Lady not think it is a bit rich that she is complaining on the one hand about the Government introducing a full consultation on a whole range of firearms issues enshrined in statute under the Bill, and on the other hand that the Government have not consulted enough on knife crime prevention orders, which are suggested by the police and are a much-needed part of the armoury in the fight against knife crime?
The Government consulted on the ban on weapons ahead of the Bill and concluded, on the basis of evidence from the most senior counter-terror police in the country, that it was right to ban assault rifles. It was only in response to a Back-Bench rebellion led by the hon. Gentleman that the Government caved and made the exact opposite case to the one that they made on Second Reading.
These are very basic requests for what is, in truth, information that Parliament should already have when being asked to pass legislation. The parliamentary lock we are seeking to add to the orders should not be necessary, but we know the damage that can result from a lack of joined-up thinking in youth justice, and our communities simply cannot afford another misstep. That is why it is only right that parliamentarians are given the full facts before being asked to approve a further roll-out.
I want to back up what my hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham (Bob Stewart) just said. In addition to the safeguards my hon. Friend has ably set out, there is the provision for under-18s that, before an order can be granted, a youth offending team has to be consulted, meaning they can be helped by experts not to reoffend.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right; YOTs will be consulted. I do not agree with the idea of having a more specific order, because that would tie the whole process up in knots, whereas this needs to be a fluid process. YOTs would indeed be consulted, and then appropriate adults—youth workers—would supervise any requirements under the order.