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

- By Kate McCann SE­NIOR PO­LIT­I­CAL COR­RE­SPON­DENT and Martin Evans CRIME COR­RE­SPON­DENT

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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