Tories cynical after Cherie’s knife crime comments

Cherie Booth’s admission she is concerned for her children’s safety on Britain’s streets has been seized on by shadow home secretary Dominic Grieve.

The wife of former prime minister Tony Blair made the comments to the Commons’ home affairs select committee yesterday.

“As a parent I am concerned about what’s happening when my children go on the street and I know I am not unique in that by any means,” she said.

Mr Grieve said her comments were a “sad indictment of ten years of failure”.

“Tony Blair promised to get tough on crime and its causes but failed to do so. Under Labour drugs use, alcohol abuse and family breakdown have increased fuelling crime, especially violent crime,” he added.

Mrs Blair was appearing in parliament in her role as chairperson of the Street Weapons Commission, which is currently holding hearings being broadcast on Channel 4.

She criticised the government’s reporting of crime statistics, through the British crime survey (BCS), because it does not include crimes involving under-16s.

Mr Grieve said: “Conservatives would deploy more police on the streets to catch and deter violent offenders, ensure more prison places so that serious violent offenders who should be in jail are in jail and tackle the long term causes of crime which lead to so much tragic violence.”

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesperson Chris Huhne said Mrs Blair’s comments underlined the government’s “appalling record” on cutting crime.

“Anyone would think that Cherie Blair was not in Downing Street while violent crime doubled,” he said.

“Young people do not feel safe on our streets but all the government has done is to posture on penalties that are not enforced because the offenders are not caught.”

The Home Office insisted the government was taking action to improve its understanding of crime across the country.

A spokesperson defended the BCS’ “consistent methodology” but said the government has begun collecting specific police data on knife crime.

The BCS will be extended to include “surveys of under-16s’ experiences of crime”, while a new youth crime action plan is due out this summer.

“This will set out practical ways to help young people stay out of trouble and tackle youth offending,” the spokesperson added.