In Brief

Met warns of violent crime surge in London amid police cuts

Gun and knife crime have risen sharply in last 12 months, new figures show

Knife

Britain's largest police force has recorded a steep rise in violent crime in the capital, which it blames on years of funding cuts.

New figures from the Metropolitan Police show gun crime is up 42 per cent since last year and knife crime is up 24 per cent.

All recorded crime was up in almost every category, including sex offences, robberies and assaults.

Overall, crime in London rose by 4.5 per cent last year, to a total of 774,737 offences.

The Met's report refers to a "significant reduction in resources" to partly explain this figure – and warns that the same pattern is being repeated nationwide.

The figures were released "proactively" by Scotland Yard, just days after the force's first female commissioner, Cressida Dick, started her new role.

This will be seen as "an attempt by Ms Dick to press the government over budget cuts", says the Daily Telegraph.

A Home Office spokesperson responded to the news by saying "police reform is working", pointing to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) that show crime is down a third on its 2010 levels.

Martin Hewitt, the Met's assistant commissioner, says there is no simple "causal link" between rising crime and cuts, and that London is safer now than it was in 2007 despite the new figures.

But he adds: "It would be a naive answer to say that if you cut a significant amount out of an organisation, you don't have any consequences."

The Met Police has had to make £600m in savings since 2010 and is tasked with finding £400m more by 2020.

London's mayor Sadiq Khan has previously said he will resist any further cuts, The Guardian reports.

Colin Sutton, a retired detective chief inspector who "solved some of the Met's most notorious cases", told the Telegraph the "decision to reduce 'stop and search', as well as misspent resources, was the real reason for the crime wave".

'Stop and search' has been controversial because it is said to unfairly target ethnic minority groups.

The Telegraph says the Met has been criticised for spending £25m on a phone hacking probe and £2.5m investigating an alleged high-profile paedophile ring.

The Met's figures also show that only about 40 per cent of the calls it dealt with last year related to crime. There were 50,000 reports of missing people and 61,000 calls regarding mental health emergencies.

This added pressure could be part of the reason for rising crime, the Met says. Some people involved in policing "feel they are picking up the pieces … as other services are cut", says The Guardian.

The Home Office insists it's "taking action" and says: "Last year, we banned zombie knives, extended our work with retailers to prevent underage sales of knives and supported police in a week of action where they seized more than 1,200 weapons and made 300 arrests."

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