Javid government must give police more resources to tackle knife crime
Home secretary insists he will back chiefs despite cabinet clash with May
Sajid Javid has said the government must listen to police chiefs’ demands for more resources after they asked the home secretary for emergency cash to fund an immediate rise in the number of officers in England to tackle knife crime.
Javid met chief constables from seven of the areas worst affected by knife crime on Wednesday to discuss solutions to the problem, which has been described as a national emergency.
As her home secretary expressed his backing for police demands, Theresa May, who, along with the chancellor, Philip Hammond, is believed to have clashed with Javid over the issue of cash at Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, was steadfastly maintaining that a lack of resources was not the problem.
Javid was not able to offer any immediate increase in funding on Wednesday but chiefs will prepare a bid for how much money they need to fund the extra resource, which would be met by existing officers working overtime.
Speaking after the talks, Javid maintained his belief that it was an essential component of the government’s response to the crisis.
“I think police resources are very important to deal with this,” he said. “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.”
Home Office statistics show the number of police officers fell from their peak of 144,353 in 2009 to 122,404 in March 2018.
The prime minister claimed on Monday there was “no direct correlation” between rising crime and police cuts but backtracked after colleagues failed to back her up, and the Metropolitan police chief, Cressida Dick, joined other senior officers in asserting that there was a link.
However, on Wednesday May repeatedly rebuffed accusations from Jeremy Corbyn that a lack of police resources was the problem, seemingly going against the views of her home secretary.
“We are putting more resources into the police. It’s no good members on the opposition benches standing up and saying: ‘No you’re not,’” she said. “It is a fact that more money is being put into the police this year, that more money is being put into the police next year.”
She said police and other agencies involved in tackling knife crime were being given “the support they need to do their job”.
But that was not a sentiment shared by the police chiefs who attended the meeting with Javid.
The chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), Sara Thornton, said: “We know what tactics work, we know what we can do to surge operational capacity to deal with these crimes. But we haven’t always got that capacity, haven’t got the officers, so we’ve agreed by the end of the week we will set out the scale of the investment required.”
Dave Thompson, the chief constable of West Midlands police, told the Guardian the home secretary agreed there was a money issue that needed to be addressed about policing, adding “short-term he was interested in how much money could make a difference”.
Thompson said any new money would pay for overtime to support a “surge” of officers into the worst-hit areas.
“We can only surge in the short term by officers working longer hours, but we also need a sustainable surge,” he said. Read more