Sajid Javid in Cabinet clash with Theresa May as he demands more money to tackle knife crime

Posted On: 
6th March 2019

A fresh Cabinet split has erupted as Sajid Javid called on Theresa May to come up with more cash to boost police funding and help tackle the surge in knife crime.

Sajod Javid and Theresa May have clashed previously.
Credit: 
PA

The Home Secretary has called for millions of pounds in extra funding despite Theresa May insisting that there is "no direct correlation" between rising knife attacks and budget cuts.

The issue came to a head at Tuesday's Cabinet meeting, where Mr Javid clashed with the Prime Minister and Chancellor Philip Hammond over his call for additional funds.

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He pointed out he had set out his demands in a letter to Mrs May, who told him she had not read it. 

Meanwhile Mr Hammond pushed back at the cash demand, arguing that police should instead make the most of existing resources.

Forces were last year granted a £970m funding top up, the biggest boost to police funding since 2010.

However, the money is dependent on local police and crime commissioners choosing to up council tax in order to pump extra cash into the system, and comes after years of pressure on police budgets.

One Cabinet minister told The Times Mr Hammond had shown a "tin-eared" response - while another claimed the Home Secretary had been "grand-standing".

The row came ahead of a meeting on Wednesday between Mr Javid and police chiefs, where forces were expected to heap pressure on the Government to turn on the spending taps and reverse the trend of rising knife crime.

The latest figures show that there were 42,957 knife offences recorded in England and Wales 2017/18 - a 31% rise on the previous year.

The number of knife-related homicides has also soared to 285 in 2017-18 - the highest figure since 1946.

On Tuesday Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick contradicted Mrs May's assertion that police cuts were not linked to rising violent crime.

The Met chief said: "I agree that there is some link between violent crime on the streets obviously and police numbers, of course there is."

STOP AND SEARCH PLEA

Writing in The Telegraph ahead of Wednesday's meeting with police chiefs, Mr Javid insisted ministers were "taking coordinated action on multiple fronts".

And he repeated his call for police to feel "confident" using stop and search powers, which were reined in during Mrs May's time as home secretary following evidence that police were disproportionately targeting black men.

"First and foremost, it’s vital we give the police the powers they need to fight this outbreak and take dangerous weapons off our streets," Mr Javid said.

“Officers should be confident using existing powers such as stop and search.

"When used effectively, stop and search is a vital tool and I am working with the police to reduce bureaucracy and ensure they can use it in the most efficient way possible.”

At Cabinet, Mrs May told Mr Javid: "I'm not anti stop and search, I'm just against the illegal use of it.”

ARMY 'READY TO HELP'

The Sun meanwhile reports that Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has offered up army support to respond to the spate of blade attacks.

The Defence Secretary said the Armed Forces stood "ready to help any government department".

And he added: "As we look at all of this, obviously our thoughts and prayers are with those family and friends of those who have lost someone.

"I know that the Home Secretary is looking very closely at how he can ensure that everything is done to tackle this problem at the moment."