PM under pressure over #Stabbings, police boss blames lower staff

| March 6, 2019

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May came under pressure to increase police spending on Tuesday (5 March) after a backlash over government handling of rising knife crime and her denial that funding squeezes were a cause, write Andrew MacAskill and Joe Green.

A wave of fatal stabbings has dominated headlines this week, displacing concerns about Britain’s divorce from the European Union and fuelling criticism that May is neglecting other priorities during the interminable Brexit saga.

Britain’s most senior policeman contradicted her assertion there was no link between street violence and police numbers.

“In the last few years, police officer numbers have gone down a lot, there’s been a lot of cuts in other public services, there’s been more demand for policing, and therefore there must be some link,” said London’s Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick.

“There is some link between violent crime on the streets, obviously, and police numbers, of course there is, and I think everybody would see that,” she told LBC radio.

The issue shot up the political agenda after two teenagers were stabbed over the weekend, bringing the number of people killed by knives this year to at least 24.

Britain saw 285 knife and sharp instrument homicides in the year ending March 2018, the highest since records began in 1946.

The rate of stabbings in Britain is broadly in line with the United States when adjusted for population sizes. But there is less gun violence in Britain, which has strict control laws.

In the latest deaths, a teenage girl was fatally stabbed in the back in a park near London in what her family said was an unprovoked attack, while a 17-year-old boy was stabbed in an affluent village near Manchester while visiting a friend.

Police attribute the trend to various factors from gang rivalries and youth services’ cuts to provocations on social media. Many have occurred in poor areas of the capital London.

Police have suffered big staffing and funding squeezes under austerity measures by May’s government, particularly during her tenure as home secretary before she took the top job.

Speaking on Monday, she promised to tackle the root causes but insisted it was not a question of resources. “If you look at the figures, what you see is there is no direct correlation between certain crimes and police numbers,” she said.

The opposition Labour party called the stabbing deaths a national tragedy and accused May of lack of leadership.

John Apter, national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales which represents low-ranking officers, accused the prime minister of being delusional.

“I am really staggered beyond belief that the leader of this country has got her head so firmly stuck in the sand that she is not seeing the reality in front of her. It really is a very, very bad situation,” he said.

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Category: A Frontpage, Crime, EU, Police, UK, Victims of crime

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