labour MP Chuka Umunna has demanded the knife crime epidemic in London should be treated as a “mental health” issue among young people.
The Labour moderate, who has represented Streatham since 2010, spoke out after a surge in the number of young people being stabbed in the capital this year.
Speaking to the Evening Standard before the terror attack in which seven people were murdered in London Bridge, Mr Umunna said: “If we really want to get to grips with this issue we’ve got to tackle it as a mental health and wellbeing issue.
“We are not properly looking after the mental health of our young people and you have got traumatised young people growing up in an environment which is the context in which these things happen.”
The 38-year-old added: “That isn’t to excuse people who end up perpetrating these terrible acts, but if we really want to reduce and stop it from happening, we’ve got to understand how mentally they’ve got to this place. I don’t think we’re doing enough to look after their mental health and wellbeing, and particularly the mental health of our young people.”
Mr Umunna, who has been tipped as a future Labour leader, refused to be drawn on Jeremy Corbyn’s future after Thursday’s vote, but said: “General Election campaigns always go back to the fundamentals of competence, leadership, stewardship of the economy, and I think in the end that will be where it’s decided.”
He added that the “test” for Labour is to win more seats that the Conservatives.
“Jeremy is a Labour person… He’s absolutely right to say we can have a debate about vote share but the main way that Labour makes its values real is by getting more seats than the Tories,” he said.
Mr Umunna, who has previously broken ranks with the Labour leadership by demanding full membership of the Single Market after Brexit, and accused Prime Minister Theresa May and Chancellor Philip Hammond of “throwing in the towel” over trade with the EU.
In a reference to the Tory manifesto pledge to slash net migration to the tens of thousands, the former shadow business secretary added: “We so often in this country obsess about the numbers of people coming to our country, but we often forget how they become parts of our community when they arrive.
“I would like to see less demonisation of immigrants and people of other races and religions in our country, and more of an emphasis on how we achieve better integrated communities.”