One wonders how much effect these 'spontaneous' Downing Street summits have. The latest is today on how to solve knife crime. No one would criticise the government for taking this very seriously and wanting to talk to experts about how to address it. But is it really necessary to promote it as if it were part of the second coming? If I were a cynic I'd think the timing was deliberate, to divert the TV cameras away from Tony Blair's select committee appearance today. Just as well I am not so cynical, isn't it?
The proof of the pudding for this knife crime summit will be to see what emerges from it. The sad truth is that there is no instant, quick fix solution. Ingrained attitudes take time to change. The only measure which might have a short term effect is to introduce a zero tolerance policy - and mean it. It's not just about increased punishment, though, it's instilling the fear of the consequences of getting caught with a knife. We can't insert ourselves into the mindset of someone who thinks it's both normal and acceptable to carry a knife, but we make sure they know the consequences of their actions.