Home Secretary urges use of full powers to combat rising knife crime cases

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Sajid Javid has called on Britain’s largest police force to step up its response to knife crime following a fresh spate of stabbings.

The Home Secretary urged Scotland Yard to make full use of police powers, including stop and search, as its officers seek to end the bloodshed.

On Wednesday Mr Javid called Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick for an update on the recent series of knife-related deaths in the capital.

He acknowledged that it was a national issue, while recognising the particular challenge in London.

The Home Secretary, who is currently in the US for talks with social media companies about their efforts to combat online child abuse, told the Commissioner: “We must act together, and I stand with you as we face this challenge.

“Alongside tough law enforcement we will not let up on our work to prevent young people getting drawn into knife crime in the first place.

“But we must step up the police response to get the situation under control so that these measures have time to work.”

Mr Javid told the Commissioner he was “deeply worried” by the level of violent crime faced by officers on the streets and reiterated his commitment to focus on driving it down, the Home Office said.

He also stressed his determination to make sure the police have the powers and tools they need and said he would do everything within in his power to support them, the department added.

The Home Secretary thanked Ms Dick and her officers for their commitment and hard work, while also making clear that police must make full use of their powers, including targeted stop and search.

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.

Reforms were introduced in 2014 by then home secretary Theresa May to ensure stop and search was used in a more targeted way.

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.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said: “Police have the powers but what they don’t have is the resources.

“Police chiefs, rank and file officers and even Home Office officials are telling the Home Secretary the problem is cuts to the police which have hampered their ability to tackle the surge in violence. Cuts he voted for time and time again.

“Evidence based stop and search is an important tool in fighting crime but random stops poison police community relations.

“The Government must urgently bring forward the resources to increase police officer numbers by 10,000 to keep our communities safe.”

Concern over serious violence has intensified after five fatal stabbings in the capital in the space of a week.

So far in London this year there have been 119 violent deaths, including two cases that are being treated as self-defence.

A third of the 117 remaining cases (42) involved victims aged 16 to 24, while 20 were teenagers. The total is nearing that seen for the whole of last year.

On Monday, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan warned it could take a generation to turn the tide of violent crime in the city.

National police-recorded crime statistics have also shown increases across a number of categories, including homicide and knife-related offences, across England and Wales.