Amber Rudd insists police cuts are not to blame for surge in violent gang crime
Amber Rudd has denied claims that police cuts are behind the recent surge in gang violence in London - but pledged a raft of new measures to tackle it.
The Home Secretary said while the “same arguments” were resurfacing, “the evidence does not support” the correlation, pointing to times when officer totals were at record highs as crime went up.
Her claim follows a week of violence in the capital, during which nine people were stabbed to death, taking the murder rate in London to more than 50 this year already.
Dozens of London Labour MPs wrote to both the PM and the Home Secretary on Friday, demanding an urgent meeting on the issue and pinning the blame on £1bn worth of cuts.
But writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Ms Rudd said: “In the early Noughties, when serious violent crimes were at their highest, police numbers were rising.
“In 2008, when knife crime was far greater than the lows we saw in 2013/14, police numbers were close to the highest we’d seen in decades.
“So while I understand that police are facing emerging threats and new pressures – leading us to increase total investment in policing – the evidence does not bear out claims that resources are to blame for rising violence.”
She added that police funding had been protected for next year and insisted stop-and-search powers would remain “a vital policing tool” with the Government’s "full support to use these powers properly".
The Home Secretary also announced plans for a Serious Violence Strategy, working with police and charities to further probe the causes of rising gang violence, including that connected to the drug trade.
The strategy, to be launched tomorrow, will also further increase pressure on internet companies to clamp down on those who “glorify and incite violence on social media”.
Meanwhile, a new bill will be brought in to clamp down on access to the most dangerous weapons, including corrosive substances.
The Offensive Weapons Bill will make it illegal to carry acid without good reason and ban the sale of the strongest substances to under-18s.
It will also allow police to seize dangerous weapons from homes and tackle the sale of knives online.
Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott welcomed the proposed legislation but said Tory cuts would undermine the police in their attempts to enforce the new powers.
"The Tories need to put their money where their mouth is, give the police the resources they need to keep people safe and pursue a collaborative approach to tackling violent crime on our streets," she said.