Sajid Javid has said there needs to be “more leadership all round” after unveiling details of a new drive to stop youngsters being drawn into crime.
The Home Secretary announced that 29 projects endorsed by Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) in England and Wales will receive funding totalling £17.7 million over two years.
The money will go towards initiatives that aim to divert children and young people away from a life of crime and violence at an early stage.
Ministers have come under intense pressure over efforts to tackle spiralling levels of violent crime.
Particular focus has fallen on London after a spate of fatal stabbings in the capital.
On a visit to Brixton in south London on Saturday, Mr Javid said the “root causes” of serious violence need to be tackled.
He was asked about comments reportedly made by the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick, about the Home Office needing to show greater leadership.
He said: “I think there needs to be more leadership all round in this. This is a huge issue, huge challenge we’re facing, young people losing their lives.
“These aren’t statistics, they’re real people. Parents and others will be absolutely devastated and they’re looking for leadership on this issue, absolutely from government, but also from police, from mayors and others.
“And that’s what they’re certainly going to get from the Government.”
Asked about her comments, Ms Dick, who joined Mr Javid on the visit, said: “I think, genuinely, people have taken out of context what I was trying to say.
“In a long-ranging interview, I said that in relation to technology, in a highly complicated system, where we need to get ahead of the criminals and be able to develop technology really fast, it would be really helpful if the Home Office were able to lead that more than they have done in the past.
“That’s all I was saying. I’m working really closely with the Home Office and the Home Secretary and of course the mayor on serious violence.
“I think the public want us to be focused on violence. There is no disagreement between us about that at all.
“We’re working very, very well together.”
The pair were in Brixton meeting young people who have been through a programme called Divert.
Plans for an Early Intervention Youth Fund were set out in the Serious Violence Strategy, which was published in April.
Important work being done by the DIVERT project in Brixton – helping young people on a path to training & employment. Early intervention is key in the fight against serious violence pic.twitter.com/C54wDtdFWZ
— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) November 10, 2018
Announcing the recipients, Mr Javid said: “As well as taking immediate action to curb knife crime, we need a longer-term approach to prevent our young people from getting drawn into a life of crime in the first place.
“That is why early intervention – alongside tough law enforcement – is at the heart of our Serious Violence Strategy.
“This money will fund a range of projects that focus on diverting vulnerable youngsters and those who have already offended away from crime.”
Measures used by the chosen projects include mentoring, support for families and steps to guide youngsters into employment or education.
Efforts to combat the influence of so-called “county lines” gangs are part of the remit of a number of the selected schemes.
Ten of the projects chosen for the fund are London-based.
Others are in the PCC areas of Norfolk, Sussex, Avon and Somerset, Merseyside, Essex, Humberside, West Midlands, Northamptonshire, Suffolk, Greater Manchester, Cleveland, Devon & Cornwall, Northumbria, Hampshire, Thames Valley, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire. A combined all-Wales bid was also successful.