Boris Johnson urges more use of controversial stop and search powers

Posted On: 
19th April 2018

Boris Johnson has called for greater use of police stop and search powers to halt a stark rise in knife crime - putting him at odds with the Home Office.

The Foreign Secretary said police "cannot be soft" on knife crime

In her stint as Home Secretary, Theresa May brought in changes to curb the use of the controversial powers, warning that they were being disproportionately used on black people. Police are now only meant to use the powers when they have “reasonable grounds for suspicion”.

But Mr Johnson - who served as London’s mayor for eight years - pointed to a spate of stabbings in the UK capital since the start of the year, and warned against “going soft” on knife crime.

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He told the Telegraph: “We did two things simultaneously, and this is what [current London mayor] Sadiq Khan needs to do. You cannot be soft on this.

"If people are going to go equipped with a knife, they are putting other people at risk and they are putting themselves at risk. You have got to stop them, you have got to search them and you have got to take the knives out of their possession. And we did that with Operation Blunt II. We took tens of thousands of knives off the streets.

"It was controversial, people said it was unfair, but by God it worked."

It was reported last month that the now Foreign Secretary had clashed with the Prime Minister over the stop and search changes in a heated Cabinet meeting.

But Policing Minister Nick Hurd told MPs on Monday that there was “absolutely no evidence” to support claims that changes to stop-and-search laws had led to a spike in knife crime deaths.

“In fact, the last big decline in knife attacks and violent crime coincided with a fall in stop-and-search,” he said.

It was reported last month that Mr Johnson had clashed with the Prime Minister over the stop and search decision in a heated Cabinet meeting.

Elsewhere in his Telegraph interview, the Foreign Secretary called for the UK to take a “liberal” approach to immigration, warning: “A society that isn’t open to talent will die.”