In Brief

Police cuts ‘probably contributed’ to rise in violent crime, government report admits

Amber Rudd’s new crackdown on rising gang violence overshadowed by Home Office leak

Home Secretary Amber Rudd today unveils a major crackdown on rising gang violence as a leaked Home Office report says her own department’s cuts to police “may have encouraged” violent offenders.

Rudd says that the new Serious Violence Strategy is aimed at dramatically cutting bloodshed on Britain’s streets, “so that no parent has to bury their child”.

However, The Times reports that no new funding has been allocated for the scheme, launched in the wake of a series of shootings and stabbings in London that have taken the number of killings in the capital to more than 50 this year.

The initiative has been overshadowed by a leaked Home Office report obtained by The Guardian that says cuts to the police “may have encouraged” violent offenders and have “likely contributed to a rise in serious violent crime”.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, Rudd acknowledged that police are facing “new pressures”, but said it would be a “mistake” to focus on police numbers given the complexity of the problem.

Asked if she believed that police cuts have contributed to a rise in violent crime, Rudd said: “No. This [initiative] is me acknowledging that new pressures which we’ve put onto the police, which they have responded to - dealing with the new types of crime that we are increasingly seeing - because of these pressures they need additional resources and they are getting them.”

She also insisted she has not seen the Home Office report, much to the surprise of Labour backbencher and former shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper.

Meanwhile, Labour’s current shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, said: “This Tory government has only just woken up to the problem of rising violent crime, including knife and gun crime, after it previously denied there was a problem.”

The leaking of the Home Office report is particularly galling for the Conservatives considering “what Theresa May said in Bournemouth in May 2015, just before the general election and a year before she became prime minister”, says The Times’s Matt Chorley.

Accusing the Police Federation of “scaremongering” about the effect of police cuts, May told the Tory party conference: “The truth is that crime fell in each of those years, it’s fallen further since, and our country is safer than it’s ever been.”

“The moral of the story”, says Chorley, is that “if you are going to accuse someone of crying wolf, you had better be pretty damn sure there isn’t a wolf out there that can come back to bite you”.

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