In April, along with other MPs from both sides of the House, I asked for a debate on the recent surge in urban violent crime. Self-evidently, rather than being partisan, we aimed to bring to public attention the horrifying rise in knife and gun crime - particularly in London - with a view to addressing how it might be countered. Last week we were given the opportunity to do so, with my successor as Minister for Security coming to the House to hear our arguments.
I spoke then about growing up on a council-estate in south-east London in a strong, stable and loving family, defined by values that encouraged a sense of purpose and responsibility. These kinds of values have been slowly eroded, as the pride that once defined lives has been worn down by a more selfish culture that is careless about our sense of community.
As I said in the debate: "If people have nothing to belong to, when there is nothing that give their lives shape and meaning apart from the membership of a gang, they are likely to join one."
The bourgeois liberal metropolitan approach to values has weakened communal health in our urban areas. The privileged few, who openly buy and use drugs, even at their city workplaces, go home to their isolated and gated communities sheltered from the damage that their self-centred life-style leaves behind.
Such people’s demand for drugs has created a spike in what is known as ‘county lines’ - the supply of drugs to and from rural areas into urban ones and vice-versa. This has brought criminals into what are generally safe countryside towns. The illegal demand of these middle-class addicts has linked them to a sinister new world.
Yet it is not just their desire for drugs that has resulted in the spike in crime. The police’s use of ‘stop-and-search’ - when they search someone they suspect of illegality - has declined in recent years. Simultaneously, the numbers of people arrested for carrying a weapon has nearly halved from 13,833 in 2010, to 7,794 in 2017. If more people carry knives and guns, yet fewer are being searched and arrested, is it any wonder they do so with impunity?
The accusation of racism is the go-to response of those who oppose ‘stop-and-search’. It is usually propagated by a self-appointed elite who exercise their power over others by telling us just how tolerant they are, and how appalling the rest of us are.
That is not to say that minority communities themselves are opposed to stop-and-search. In fact, quite the reverse is true: in 2014, 71 per cent of the black and minority ethnic (BAME) community agreed that stop-and-search was a good tactic to help reduce crime. To willingly ignore the desire from these communities for good order, just to satisfy metropolitan left-wing establishment posturing, is as unfair as it is unwise.
It is a disastrous consequence of the liberal consensus that stop-and-search has come to be seen as part of the problem. The duty to defend the public is the primary duty of every Government, even if that means distressing a few metropolitan liberals.