Knife crime: are police or Home Office ultimately to blame?
Police react with fury after home secretary urges Scotland Yard to ‘step up response’ to violent crime
Britain’s rising knife crime epidemic has provoked a bitter blame game between the police and Home Office.
The Independent reports that police have “reacted with fury” after being told to step up their response to violent crime by the home secretary, a day after MPs warned that cuts could have “dire consequences for public safety”.
Sajid Javid has urged Scotland Yard to make full use of police powers, including stop and search, as its officers seek to end the bloodshed.
Earlier this week London Mayor Sadiq Khan told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that solving the problem could take up to a decade.
Javid’s remarks come after five people were stabbed to death in the space of a week in London, bringing the total number killed by knife crime in the capital this year to 74.
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, prompting the then-home secretary Theresa May to introduce reforms back in 2014 to ensure the practice was used in a more targeted way.
The London Evening Standard reports that “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”.
“If stop and search means that lives can be saved from the communities most affected, then of course it's a very good thing,” he told the annual Police Superintendents' Conference in September.
However, the effectiveness of stop and search has been widely disputed.
The government's Serious Violence Strategy, published in April, acknowledges that knife crime, gun crime and homicide have all risen as stop and search has fallen, “but it dismisses any link, pointing out that knife crime fell between 2010-11 and 2013-14 - a period that also coincided with a fall in stop and search”, says the BBC.
A separate study published last year from the College of Policing published a study examining Metropolitan Police stop and search data found that higher rates of the practice, under any power, only led to “very slightly lower than expected rates of crime in the following week or month”.