The Sunday Telegraph

Rudd: Police have enough bobbies to tackle crime

Home Secretary says cuts not to blame for rise in violence as new powers and task force unveiled


POLICE cuts are not to blame for rising crime, the Home Secretary warns today, because forces have the officers and funding to tackle the violence on Britain’s streets.

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph,

Amber Rudd unveils a Serious Violence Task Force to face the problem and says the “time for warm words and political quarrels is over”.

In the article, which echoes Theresa May’s speech to the Police Federation in 2014 when she was home secretary, Ms Rudd says: “As we confront this issue, I know that the same arguments and criticisms will emerge.

“One is the contention that there are not enough officers on the streets. The evidence, however, does not support this. In the early 2000s, when serious violent crimes were at their highest, police numbers were rising.

“In 2008, when knife crime was far greater than the lows we saw in 201314, police numbers were close to the highest we’d seen in decades.”

Ms Rudd also highlights rising police budgets and cash reserves held by most forces – including the Metropolit­an Police, which has £240million to spend if it believes there is a need.

Her comments came as former Scotland Yard Commission­er Lord Blair of Boughton said the Met needed extra resources because there were not “enough officers visible on the street”. Ms Rudd spoke out as the Government prepares to reveal plans to tackle violent crime and new laws to clamp down on those who carry weapons, plus extra stop-and-search powers. This weekend, the Met has deployed an extra 300 officers, while London MPs have been called to City Hall on Tuesday for a meeting with the Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan and Cressida Dick, the current police commission­er.

It follows a week of violence during which nine people were stabbed to death, taking the murder rate in the capital to more than 50 this year. A London trauma surgeon also told

The Sunday Telegraph that he had seen 160 stabbings in just a few months, while gunshot wounds have doubled this year compared with last.

Ms Rudd also comes out in support of stop-and-search powers, saying they are “a vital policing tool”.

Just one day earlier, Chief Constable Sara Thornton, the chair of the National Police Chiefs Council, said politician­s had undermined confidence in it.

The new Home Office Strategy published tomorrow will include measures to tackle violence through social media, as well as in schools.

A task force will also be set up and new laws introduced to restrict access to knives and acid and to punish more harshly those who carry weapons.

A new Offensive Weapons Bill will be brought forward within weeks, outlawing weapons such as zombie knives and knuckle-dusters.

Measures to tackle violence in Scotland have resulted in dramatic decreases in knife crime.

Data analysed by this newspaper shows those caught in possession of a weapon can expect to go to jail for double the length of time those in England and Wales do.

Last week we saw more reports of stabbings of young people in London, which are part of a distressin­g number of violent attacks in major cities across the UK. Each attack represents numerous personal tragedies. A child, relative, friend taken away too soon – a lifetime of potential never realised. But in the offender there is also a tragic case – someone who has chosen a path that devastates not just the life of their victim but also their own.

After such a serious attack hits the headlines, we – politician­s on all sides, police, experts – come forward to express our concern, and put forward competing solutions. But while debate is necessary, it is not enough. Tackling violence on our streets is a complex problem, and we need not only all parties, but whole communitie­s to come together to tackle it.

As Home Secretary, I am determined to drive real action to end this devastatin­g cycle of violence by transformi­ng our approach to this threat – from uncovering the root causes of these crimes, improving early interventi­on and steering people away from violence, to further empowering our police and prosecutor­s as they tackle the problem.

As part of this work, today I have announced our intention to introduce an Offensive Weapons Bill to restrict access to some of the most dangerous offensive weapons, including corrosive substances. The Bill will make it illegal to carry acid without good reason, ban the sale of the most corrosive to under-18s, allow police to seize dangerous weapons from homes, and tackle the sale of knives online. But more powers for our police and these new laws are only one part of the Serious Violence Strategy, which I will launch tomorrow.

This strategy, developed in consultati­on with law enforcemen­t and charities, will provide robust evidence on what is driving these attacks and the cross-government action needed to tackle them. It will outline the role of law enforcemen­t, government agencies and the private and charitable sectors, and how we plan to end the scourge of “county lines” gang exploitati­on. It will also shine a light on the drug trade, which will be highlighte­d as a key driver of rising violence. And it will increase pressure on internet companies to clamp down on those who glorify and incite violence on social media.

At its heart, the strategy will set out how we will intervene earlier in communitie­s to help those most at risk of being drawn into crime, guiding them on to the right path.

To lead our coordinate­d efforts against this complex threat I will chair a new Serious Violence Task Force, which will include key representa­tives from national and local government, locally elected police and crime commission­ers and representa­tives from health, education and industry. The launch of the strategy is just the start of our work to radically change how we tackle serious violence, and the task force will play a major role in overseeing the delivery of it as we provide both support and scrutiny to local areas to ensure swift progress.

As we confront this issue, I know that the same arguments and criticisms will emerge. Arguments that our evidence-based strategy should help put to rest. One is the contention that there are not enough officers on the streets to tackle this threat.

The evidence does not support this. In the early Noughties, when serious violent crimes were at their highest, police numbers were rising. In 2008, when knife crime was far greater than the lows we saw in 2013/14, police numbers were close to the highest we’d seen in decades.

So while I understand that police are facing emerging threats and new pressures – leading us to increase total investment in policing – the evidence does not bear out claims that resources are to blame for rising violence. Police funding has been protected and our recent settlement is enabling a £460 million increase in investment in 2018/19, including council tax precept. The Metropolit­an Police alone will receive more than £2.5 billion, including the additional £49 million made possible by our providing the Mayor of London with extra flexibilit­y in raising precepts, and in addition to their £240 million cash reserves.

And on stop and search, let me be crystal clear – it is a vital policing tool and officers will always have the Government’s full support to use these powers properly.

This Government has a track record of defending the most vulnerable. We stand for law and order, so we will not allow the scourge of violence to infect our communitie­s. That is why stopping violent crime is, and will continue to be, at the top of my agenda as we face this head on, working with organisati­ons and communitie­s across the country to do so.

To those on all sides of this debate, and those who may have disagreed with our approach, I invite you to stop criticisin­g from the sidelines and join us in this fight. The time for political quarrels is over; it is the time for action, for the sake of our children and their futures, and the safety of communitie­s across the country.

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