- Lib Dems call on Government to take youth crime seriously after more than 28,000 knife crimes in the UK last year alone - 3,500 in North West.
- Lib Dems say we must be proactive rather than just reacting to aftermath.
- John Leech: "too devastating and too important for it not to be top of the Government's agenda."
John Leech has called for a "serious crackdown" on youth crime, particularly related to knives, which have been key to more than 28,000 incidents last year alone. Nearly 1,800 of those were in Greater Manchester.
Speaking at the Liberal Democrat Conference taking place in Bournemouth this week, Mr Leech told members the effects of youth crime are "too devastating and too important for it not to be top of the Government's agenda."
There were 3,506 knife crimes in the North West last year and John Leech has now called on the Government to take a more proactive approach, rather than just reacting to the aftermath.
Kids Count, the charity who organised the event at the party's conference this week, laid out their plan to give young people a voice and a brighter future. They exist to help young people overcome disadvantages by listening, encouraging and promoting self-help.
In his speech made at the Liberal Democrat Conference today, the former MP of ten years said: "This Government's constant slashing of police and education support has resulted in tens of thousands of families being ripped apart - families that will never be the same.
"Just increasing police officers is not enough; we need to be investing in proactive policing, getting a diverse police force that can completely immerse themselves in their communities, really get to know local people and earn their trust.
"The path into gangs, knife and gun crime is far too frequently misinterpreted - rarely do they choose a life of crime rather they are groomed into groups and gangs. We must empower young people from all backgrounds and communities to fully grasp all of the opportunities available and ensure they are not led down that dangerous path.
"That is how we tackle the root of this problem, rather than just reacting to the tragic aftermath.
"Youth crime is far too devastating and too important for it not to be top of the Government's priority. We have a duty to this generation's young people and it's way past time to get our act together."