Tory MP Christopher Chope suggests people get 'fitter' to avoid knife attacks

26 March 2019, 17:32 | Updated: 26 March 2019, 18:52

A Tory MP has suggested people get "fitter" to better defend themselves and survive a knife attack.

Sir Christopher Chope asked senior police chiefs if they backed his idea of "increasing the encouragement" of young people to take up martial arts.

He called the plan to boost teaching of judo and taekwondo an "alternative" akin to women learning "how to deal with men who get violent".

Dave Thompson, chief constable of West Midlands Police, dismissed the idea of a national strategy to improve "street-based combat skills" but admitted "it does something different".

2019 has seen a series of fatal stabbings across the UK amid cuts to police forces across the country.

Sir Christopher told Mr Thompson at the Commons' home affairs select committee: "One of the ways in which people can be prepared is by, for example, doing judo, taekwondo, being physically able and taught how to deal with a situation where you are threatened with a knife.

"Do you think there's something to be said for actually increasing the encouragement of young people so they don't have to take a knife out?

"They can protect themselves by actually knowing how to deal with such an incident were it to arise."

Mr Thompson told him the best knife prevention response was to "run away as fast as you can".

Sir Christopher added that "you need to be fit to do that", leading the West Midlands Police chief constable to warn: "I think people have got to run away.

"I'd probably not advocated a strategy of increasing the combat readiness and martial arts of young people in general."

He added that some martial art sports are "hugely popular" and "take young men off the streets".

Sir Christopher responded that it was "an alternative".

"So if they say 'well I'm carrying a knife because I want to protect myself,' an alternative to that is actually to protect yourself by actually being fitter and more able to deal with that sort of attack," he said.

"In the same way as a lot of young women are taught how to deal with men who get violent or threatening towards them."

Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, said that "meaningful, purposeful activity is always good" and that sports programmes were "clearly keeping young people very safe".

"I'm not dismissing your point," she insisted to Sir Christopher.