5 March 2019
The Prime Minister needs to face up to the facts and accept that the police cuts she instigated as Home Secretary have contributed to the huge increase in knife crime, according to the chair of Derbyshire Police Federation.
Tony Wetton was commenting after PM Theresa May said yesterday there was no correlation between an increase in certain types of crime and a decrease in officer numbers.
“I am not sure which types of crime she was actually talking about but I would argue that the cuts to policing budgets, which have reduced the visible policing presence and the neighbourhood policing that we know help build good relationships with the community, have definitely had an impact on our ability to tackle knife crime,” says Tony.
“But, even if we let that argument drop, I think it’s plain for everyone to see – perhaps except the Prime Minister – that we now need to see emergency action to stop knife crime.
“We need more police officers on the streets, increased use of stop and search with the unequivocal support of MPs and the public, and tougher sentences for those who are caught carrying knives to provide an effective deterrent.
“Police officers dealing with those individuals who carry weapons also need proper protection, so Government funding for equipment like Taser is very important.
“Longer term, we also need to see the police and other public sector and community groups coming together not just to tackle those engaging in knife crime now but also to educate young people so that we can prevent any further escalation of these types of crime in the future.
“But we can only do that if we have more police officers, currently there are just not enough of us to go around and community liaison work and partnership building have suffered.”
And he added: “The Prime Minister continues to spout the absurdity that the number of police officers doesn’t affect the levels and scale of crime in our communities. At a time when areas in some of our cities are suffering an epidemic of deadly violence involving knives, hearing her arrogant message gives the same reassurance as Romans must have felt watching Nero reaching for his fiddle.
“People who know about policing have been warning her about the consequences of the cuts to policing throughout her time in office, but she dismissed them as scaremongers. I take it she thinks that the Press and media are crying wolf now that those consequences are being felt and seen by the public”
National Federation chair John Apter has pointed out that policing has been stripped to the bone due to the Government’s austerity measures and said the consequences were clear with children being murdered on our streets.
He explained: “What makes this all the more sickening is that it was predicted. This is the true cost of austerity that we warned of but were ridiculed for doing so. Theresa May herself accused the Police Federation of ‘crying wolf’ when we highlighted our concerns. Those concerns have become a reality but still the Prime Minister fails to accept the harsh truth.”
The national chair continued: “What we need now is less talk and more action, fewer policies and more police officers - boots on the ground, out there on our streets making a real difference, protecting our youngsters. Yet politicians, who have it in their power to make this effective and meaningful change, choose to merely tinker around the edges with new-look ASBOs and catchy hashtags.”
And he added: “This is bigger than party politics, the Government needs to treat this as the national emergency it is and reinvest to ensure our public services are able to respond effectively to this crisis.
“The public deserve better, they need our so-called leaders to step up and lead, to stop the bloodshed and end this criminal waste of young life.”
Home Secretary Sajid Javid will chair a roundtable with chief constables tomorrow (Wednesday 6 March) to discuss the crisis.