Javid says police resources ‘very important’ as May faces knife crime backlash

Sajid Javid has acknowledged that police resources are important in tackling knife violence, as Theresa May faced a mounting backlash for denying a link between officer numbers and bloodshed on Britain's streets.

The Home Secretary emphasised that ministers must listen to forces following emergency talks with chief constables after a string of fatal stabbings prompted warnings of a "national emergency".

The killings have sparked intense scrutiny of reductions in the size of the police workforce.

The number of officers in the 43 territorial forces in England and Wales has fallen by more than 20,000 since 2009.

Mrs May, who was home secretary from 2010 to 2016, argued earlier this week that there was "no direct correlation between certain crimes and police numbers".

But a string of senior figures in policing have lined up to dispute her assertion.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Javid said: "I think police resources are very important to deal with this. We've got to do everything we can.

"I'm absolutely committed to working with the police in doing this. We have to listen to them when they talk about resources."

POLITICS Knives
(PA Graphics)

The Home Secretary also said it was important for the Government to give police "more confidence" over the use of stop-and-search powers.

Mrs May introduced reforms in 2014 to ensure stop and search was used in a more targeted way, following criticism that the tactics unfairly focused on black and minority ethnic individuals.

At Prime Ministers' Questions, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn claimed the Prime Minister was trying to keep communities safe "on the cheap".

He said: "Does the Prime Minister now regret cuts in police numbers and will she undertake that under this review they will be restored to the level they were formerly at?"

Mrs May, who is to host a summit on knife crime, said the Government is putting more resources into policing.

A proposed cash boost could see total police funding rise by nearly £1 billion in 2019/20, including money raised through council tax.

Asked whether the PM still believed there was no direct link between police numbers and violent crime, her official spokesman said: "Clearly resources and powers are important.

"We have just given the police more resources and more powers and we always listen to what the police are saying.

"But it's hugely important that we don't just treat this as a policing issue, that we do look across society at things such as changes in the drugs market and address issues like gang culture with children being groomed into this lifestyle and carrying knives, and we look at public health."

Later this week, police chiefs will present ministers with details of the resources they need for a "surge" in capacity to combat the rise in violent crime.

Ahead of the meeting with Mr Javid, National Police Chiefs' Council chairwoman Sara Thornton called for "emergency funding".

She told the BBC: "Look at the facts, there are fewer police officers doing less policing and there's more crime."

At the weekend two 17-year-olds, Jodie Chesney and Yousef Makki, were killed in separate stabbings in London and Greater Manchester.

In Birmingham three teenagers died in the space of 12 days last month.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has said the military would be "ready to respond" if asked to help play a part in tackling knife crime.

But Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner Sir Stephen House said he did not believe the Army should be called in.

"I think it would cause more alarm and concern than anything else," he told the London Assembly police and crime committee.

Read Full Story

FROM OUR PARTNERS