Sajid Javid has told how he could have fallen into a life of crime as he spoke of his fears his own children could become victims of Britain’s knife attack epidemic.
The Home Secretary and Tory leadership hopeful spoke in London today as politicians scramble to tackle the spiralling problem of knife crime in the UK.
Javid, a father of four, told of his own fears when he lies in bed at night waiting for his children to come home.
He also told how he too could have turned to a life of crime himself when, as a schoolboy, drug dealers approached him at his school gates.
Sajid Javid today backed the use of stop and search powers as he spoke about knife crime
Sajid Javid (pictured) with his wife Laura Sajid has said of his worries waiting up for his own children to return home at night
Mr Javid said: ‘I may be the Home Secretary but I’m not ashamed to confess; I have stayed up late at night waiting to hear the key turning in the door. And only then going to bed knowing that they have come home safe and sound.
‘And like any other dad, when I watch the news and see the faces of all those young victims of knife crime I despair at the waste of those lives.’
A young Mr Javid in his school days. The Home Secretary shared the picture on Instagram, saying ‘#extrememakeover #agedwell’
Speaking of his own experience, he added: ‘I grew up on what was dubbed by one tabloid as “the most dangerous street in Britain”. It’s not so difficult to see how instead of being Cabinet, I could have been taken in to a life of crime.
‘There were the pupils at school that shoplifted, and asked if I wanted to help. The drug dealers who stood near the school gates and told you by joining in you could make easy money.
‘But I was lucky. I had loving and supporting parents, who despite their own circumstances gave me security. I had some brilliant teachers who motivated me to go further than what was expected of me.
‘I even had a girlfriend who believed in me and supported me despite my lack of prospects and went onto to become my wife. Thanks to them all I have built a better life for myself and my family.’
Stop and search powers were previously restricted by former Home Secretary, now Prime Minister Theresa May, amid racism claims.
But following a rise in the number of attacks, there have been greater calls for officers to increase their use.
Javid said today that he is trialling a scheme to give police officers greater ability to use the powers at their own discretion.
He said: ‘Stop and search saves lives. There are people that are alive today because of stop and search. I cannot say this clearly enough.’
The scene of London’s latest stabbing, in Bounds Green in the north of the capital last week
He added that knife crime should be treated like the outbreak of a ‘virulent disease’, and the ‘mindset of Government needs to shift’ to combat the scourge.
The Government and police have come under intense pressure over violent crime following a spate of fatal stabbings in London and Birmingham.
Mr Javid paid tribute to his wife, Laura, and his family for helping him make a success of his life
There were 285 homicides where the method of killing was by a knife or sharp instrument in England and Wales in 2017/18 – the highest number since records started in 1946.
In the year to September, police recorded around 1.5 million ‘violence against the person’ offences – a jump of nearly a fifth on the previous 12 months.
Polling data released last week suggested that public concern about crime is at its highest since the riots of 2011.
Ministers have announced a £100 million cash injection for police to tackle knife crime and relaxed rules on the use of enhanced stop and search powers in badly-hit areas.
Mr Javid and Prime Minister Theresa May have also unveiled a new ‘public health’ approach to violent crime.
Under the plans, state bodies could be made subject to a legal duty requiring them to have ‘due regard’ to the prevention and tackling of serious violence.
The proposals drew criticism from leaders in a number of the professions that would be affected.
Mr Javid used his speech today to try to reassure health workers and teachers, saying the approach is about giving them the confidence to report their concerns, ‘safe in the knowledge that everyone will close ranks to protect that child’.
Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan said: ‘Serious youth violence has now become a crisis – there’s no other way of talking about it.
‘To tackle this growing scourge, we must address the ‘poverty of hope’ felt by too many children and young people across the country, who see little or no chance of a positive future.
‘Caught in a vicious cycle, they carry knives because they don’t feel safe.’