Jo Swinson has pledged to invest £500 million into youth services in a bid to tackle knife crime if she becomes Prime Minister.
The party leader said the proposed fund would provide young people with “positive, safe and healthy opportunities" to prevent them being drawn into violence and gang-related crime.
She has also proposed making local youth services a statutory provision, which, according to the party, would protect them from future cuts.
Lib Dem spokeswoman for home affairs, Christine Jardine, told talkRADIO that previous governments have not done enough to combat the “knife epidemic”.
“The Labour and Conservative parties for too long have just abandoned people to crime and then punished them – what we want to do is to try and discourage young people from getting involved in crime by providing an alternative,” she said.
The scheme would take a public health approach to the issue, modelled on Scotland's Violence Reduction Unit.
It involves identifying risk factors and treating them early on, with youth workers, police, teachers, health professionals and social services all working closely together to prevent young people falling into gangs and violence.
Ms Jardine, who grew up in Glasgow where the system has been adopted, also argued that short custodial sentences "don't actually help".
“You take young people who have been carrying a knife and you criminalise them, you put them in jail for less than a year, you make the situation worse," she said.
The £500 million funding will be for England only as education is a devolved matter, but the party said extra money would be made available to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
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