Sir Keir Starmer has agreed to meet the mothers of two murdered boys campaigning for action on knife crime.

The Labour Party leader said he would like to speak directly to Zoey McGill and Tanya Brown, who with the Northern Echo’s backing, are pressing the Government to create a safer environment for young people on our streets.

Their sons were both 18 when they lost their lives after being stabbed.

Read more: Mums of Jack Woodley and Connor Brown write to Liz Truss demanding meeting over knife crime

Sir Keir responded after the Northern Echo issued a front page call for action to the Prime Minister to mark the anniversary of Jack Woodley’s death on Monday.

The Northern Echo: The Northern Echo on Monday The Northern Echo on Monday (Image: Newsquest)

The Northern Echo: Sir Keir Starmer Sir Keir Starmer (Image: PA)

Sir Keir, the MP for Holburn and St Pancras, said: “Sadly, I’ve met many, many parents of young people killed in knife crime incidents, either in my own patch or when I was the Director of Public Prosecutions.

“I feel very strongly about this having been Chief Prosecutor for five years, and to see the criminal justice system falling apart is beyond frustrating.

“When it comes to knife crime there is a problem that we must address.”

Sir Keir said one of the problems lies with the number of police officers and support officers working in communities.

He said: “The government has stripped out 20,000 officers across the UK.

“It is putting some of them back but that is like stealing a telly and coming back a few years later with a broken one and saying you should be grateful.

“It is simply not good enough. It’s not just a numbers game, it’s about how you base these people in the community.

“Increasing jail sentences and new stop and search powers only work if you have got a number of police officers on the ground.”

He said he agreed with concerns raised by the mothers and senior youth workers regarding the dramatic reduction in funding for youth services over the last decade that were highlighted in Monday’s Northern Echo.

The Northern Echo: The Northern Echo is backing Zoey McGill and Tanya Brown's campaign to tackle knife crime and calling for action from the Government The Northern Echo is backing Zoey McGill and Tanya Brown's campaign to tackle knife crime and calling for action from the Government (Image: Sarah Caldecott)

He said: “We can’t avoid the stripping away of youth services because if you strip away the places where there is engagement with young people, where young people can actually be occupied in a different way, then you are creating conditions in which knife crime becomes even worse.

“I’m afraid the Tory party can never ever again claim to be the party of law and order after what they have done to our criminal justice system over the last 12 years.

“Let’s set up that meeting, I would genuinely like to meet them.

“Every time I have met grieving parents, there is always something to be learned about making the situation better.”

The Prime Minister's press office at 10 Downing Street has been contacted and Ms Truss has once again been given the opportunity to comment. No reply has been received. 

The Northern Echo: Jack WoodleyJack Woodley (Image: Contributor)

Jack Woodley, from Newton Aycliffe, died the days after he was stabbed during a gang attack as he left the fun fair at Houghton Feast last year.

His mother Zoey said: “It is brilliant that he had agreed to meet us. He will know exactly where we are coming from because of the previous role he has played. Something has got to be done soon.

“This is a step in the right direction. It is really good.”

The Northern Echo: Family photographFamily photograph (Image: Contributor)

Connor Brown died after he was stabbed during a night out in 2019.

His mother Tanya Brown said: “It is good news. It is brilliant that someone high up is going to sit up and listen to what we have got to say.

“I am over the moon. Getting him on side now is very important.

“If he does become the Prime Minister then we have already spoken to him and maybe he will have the guts to do something.”

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