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Home Secretary says police are ?enforcers not legislators? in unity call on knife crime crisis

Plea to Met and Mayor to use full powers to combat stabbings
Published - 08/11/2018 By - Nick Hudson - Police Oracle

Policing must use its “full powers” and step up the response to bring the growing knife crime crisis under control, the Home Secretary has urged.

A “deeply worried” Sajid Javid says the government is committing millions of pounds to early intervention measures with a” laser-like focus” on getting death off Britain’s streets.

Acknowledging the problem was a national issue, while recognising the particular challenge in London, he is urging Mayor Sadiq Khan to “stop playing politics” and work with central government to “prevent losing any more young lives unnecessarily”.

Reacting to police chiefs’ complaints that classing more incidents as hate crimes could distract from tackling violence, the Home Secretary bluntly told policing its job is to “enforce the law that has been established by Parliament”.

He added: “When Parliament decides that something that isn’t a crime today should become a crime tomorrow, that’s not a decision for police officers.”

On Wednesday Mr Javid – currently in the US for talks with social media companies about their efforts to combat online child abuse – called Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick for an update on the recent series of stabbing-related deaths in the capital.

The total has reached 250 victims in England and Wales in 2018, with 119 of those in the capital.

The Home Secretary, in urging policing’s response to include stop and search, told the Commissioner: "We must act together, and I stand with you as we face this challenge.

"Alongside tough law enforcement we will not let up on our work to prevent young people getting drawn into knife crime in the first place.

“I have committed £200 million of funding through the Youth Endowment Fund to help this.

“I’ve also announced a public health approach to tackling the issue and have launched an independent review into drugs misuse — one of the main drivers in the rise of violent crime.

"But we must step up the police response to get the situation under control so that these measures have time to work."

Turning specifically to the Met Police, he added: “The mayor is responsible for deploying police funding and setting policy to tackle crime. We should be joining our efforts to have a laser-like focus on knife crime.

Mr Javid told the Commissioner he was "deeply worried" by the level of violent crime faced by officers on the streets and reiterated his commitment to focus on driving it down, the Home Office said.

He also stressed his determination to make sure the police have the powers and tools they need and said he would do everything within in his power to support them, the department added.

The Home Secretary thanked Ms Dick and her officers for their commitment and hard work, while also making clear that police must make full use of their powers, including targeted stop and search.

Home Office figures released last month revealed that forces in England and Wales conducted 282,248 stops and searches in the 12 months to March - the lowest number since current data collection started 17 years ago.

The tactics have previously attracted controversy amid criticism they unfairly focused on black and minority ethnic individuals.

Reforms were introduced in 2014 by then home secretary Theresa May to ensure stop and search was used in a more targeted way.

Since his appointment, Mr Javid has backed a boost in the use of the powers as officers and ministers attempt to bear down on spiralling levels of serious violence.

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott said: "Police have the powers but what they don't have is the resources.

"Police chiefs, rank and file officers and even Home Office officials are telling the Home Secretary the problem is cuts to the police which have hampered their ability to tackle the surge in violence – cuts he voted for time and time again.

"Evidence-based stop and search is an important tool in fighting crime but random stops poison police community relations.

"The government must urgently bring forward the resources to increase police officer numbers by 10,000 to keep our communities safe."

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