Surely nobody can have failed to be horrified by the wave of knife crime currently sweeping across our country.
Part of the problem is undoubtedly increased criminality and I have no problem with tougher sentences for anyone caught in possession of a knife.
But the causes run deeper. And although there are many, there is often a common thread.
It does not help that we have lost 20,000 police officers since 2010. And beyond that is the loss of very many Community Support officers, who provide a crucial link to the communities they serve, and the intelligence that offers. A tip off about a youngster falling into the wrong crowd; a dispute between two different groups of youths.
But we have also lost thousands of youth workers: adults who get to know children and provide positive role models for them from a young age. And who can also keep young people from straying into gang culture or believing that it is acceptable to carry a knife.
There is also less provision for youth clubs to keep youngsters off the street and give them a place of safety where adults can keep a safe eye on them.
Schools also have a role. But they are feeling the strain, with cuts to teachers and teaching assistants. There is also evidence that schools across the country are excluding more young people. Partly this is because of greater pressure from Ofsted, the schools inspectorate, to maintain results so unruly children are discarded to get them off the school’s books.
It is also partly because schools no longer have the resources to dedicate to children from troubled backgrounds.
Every local authority in England has suffered massive cuts in central government support since 2010. It means every one of them is having to put up council tax, and make cuts to services that might otherwise provide more support to young people.
In Cheshire West & Chester, over half the annual budget goes on social care for adults and vulnerable children and that causes a huge strain on other depleted budgets. Other councils are not so well run: Conservative Northamptonshire went bust and was taken over by commissioners.
At the same time, we hear that Google paid only £67 million in tax last year, avoiding paying £1.5 billion tax by pretending UK sales were made abroad.
Cuts have consequences. Dodging tax has consequences. Public services are withering away and people’s live are being affected in the worst possible way. Surely this cannot continue.