LIKE many people across the West Midlands, I have been horrified about the rise in knife crime that is leading to deaths and serious injuries in our communities.

Some of the statistics are sickening including the number of under-18s involved in knife crime in the region more than doubling in the last five years – mainly due to gang activity.

The government has acted by giving extra powers to West Midlands Police to stop and search.

But it also acted earlier this month to limit the sale and availability of knives.

I am absolutely delighted ministers announced that certain dangerous zombie knives and machetes are being made illegal, and the government is consulting on higher penalties for selling illegal knives.

This is something I have been very concerned about and I led a debate in parliament on it earlier this year along with interviews on TV and radio to raise awareness.

I don't believe there is a reason for any individual to carry a machete or zombie knife. These knives are carried by criminals.

However, there are some legitimate uses for certain types of machetes in agriculture or horticulture, and that’s where the consultation comes in to ensure the measures are targeted and balanced.

Moving forward, I believe those who continue to carry these vicious knives should face more time behind bars, in recognition of the damage they could have inflicted by taking or ruining a life.

When I think of Ryan Passey’s family and the grief they still endure following the stabbing of their loved one in Stourbridge six years ago, I know we must continue to act. To that end, I am in discussions about how the government could create a new offence of carrying a blade to cause fear.

Stourbridge people are also concerned about begging in the town centre. I have written to the borough police commander. We need this situation resolved quickly and a new police base in the constituency - expected by the summer - can’t come soon enough.

I have been out and about in Stourbridge these last two weeks and it is a pleasure to meet so many people and listen to their views. Two highlights spring to mind.

I visited King Edward VI College to meet with the principal Holly Bembridge. We discussed a wide range of topics including staff recruitment and how the cost of living is causing students to choose to apply for more local universities.

The weekend saw me at Stourbridge FC for Mary Stevens biggest ever Football Day. Many thanks to the teams of legends from Stourbridge, the Villa, Wolves and West Bromwich Albion who went head-to-head for the Jane Webb Memorial Trophy in aid of this fantastic local cause.