School sports teams should make a comeback to help cut gang violence, according to Birmingham MP Khalid Mahmood.
Mr Mahmood (Lab Perry Barr) called for the return of school football, rugby and cricket teams, as an inquiry warned official figures failed to show the true level of violent crime.
Annual crime statistics showed the number of violent incidents recorded by police had fallen by seven per cent in the past 12 months, from 255,000 incidents a year across the country to 237,000 incidents a year.
But incidents of the most serious violent crimes, such as homicide, attempted murder and grievous bodily harm with intent to kill, rose by almost a quarter.
And a report by the Commons Public Accounts Committee, which includes Shropshire MP Philip Dunne (Con Ludlow), highlighted warnings from hospitals that victims of violent crime treated in accident and emergency wards were failing to report crimes to the police.
The study also called for the Home Office to conduct more research into why young people join gangs. The MPs said: “Gang activity and gang violence is a factor in violent crime but the Home Office has a limited understanding of the nature of gang membership and activity. Mr Mahmood said school sports teams used to provide an alternative for young people, but there were very few of them left.
“Cricket teams and football teams were gangs. We don’t have them any more, and now we have other gangs.
“When I was growing up in Birmingham, we had a rugby club. But the problem now is that teachers don’t want to work on evenings and weekends any more.
“There is some great work going on with organisations such as the Birmingham Parks League, which has 48 cricket teams involving 1,000 people.
“But there’s very little funding, and it can only do so much. We need sports teams, not as some sort of project or scheme but just as a basic part of our schools.”
Recorded crime in England and Wales fell by six per cent in the past 12 months, with violent crime falling by seven per cent, but incidents of the most serious violent crimes rose from 4,512 to 5,500, up by 22 per cent.
The Home Office was also forced to admit that some forces had failed to compile accurate figures for serious violent crime.
Officials said 13 forces were asked to re-examine their figures after they discovered some serious assaults were being recorded in a lower category of offence.
They admitted the under-counting could have been going on for more than 10 years.