Sajid Javid in public challenge to Theresa May as he backs police calls for more knife crime resources
Sajid Javid has said police chiefs "have to be listened to" over their calls for more cash to tackle knife crime - just days after Theresa May insisted there was "no direct correlation" between rising crime and budget cuts.
After a meeting with bosses from seven forces this morning, the Home Secretary said police resources “are very important” in dealing with the rising levels of violent crime.
The comments came ahead of the weekly round of Prime Minister's Questions in which Mrs May was challenged by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn over the Government's handling of the surge in attacks.
Mr Javid told Sky News: “Police resources are very important to deal with this. We’ve got to do everything we can. I’m absolutely committed to working with police in doing this.
“I’ve said for a long time we need to listen to the police and as well as many other factors such as early intervention, about having other government departments and public bodies play their part.
“It is important police always have resources that they need, and that was part of financial settlement for this year to make sure they can hire more officers.”
He added: “Where police are setting out a case and providing evidence for more resources I’m absolutely listening to that.”
The Home Secretary said today’s talks - at which forces called for an immediate boost to police numbers to help combat knife crime - had been "very constructive and positive".
They came as Mr Corbyn hit out at the Prime Minister in the Commons, urging her to boost police numbers and saying officers "clearly do not have the resources to deal with" knife crime.
The Labour leader added: "Safer neighbourhoods teams have been cut. Community police officers have been cut. Many areas see no police officers at all."
But Mrs May - who announced she will chair a Number 10 knife summit with "ministers, community leaders, agencies and others" later this week - hit back at Mr Corbyn.
"I’ve just indicated we are putting more resources into the police this year - it’s no good members on the opposition benches standing up and saying ‘no you’re not’," she said.
"It is a fact that more money is being put into the police this year, that more money is being put into the police next year.
"The real question is not are we putting more money into the police - because we are. The real question is why did the Labour Party oppose that money going into the police?"
The latest figures show that there were 42,957 knife offences recorded in England and Wales in 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.
FORMER MET BOSS: MAY HAS 'ANTIPATHY' FOR POLICE
The PMQs clash came as former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord Stevens said the Government had failed to heed warnings over the impact police funding cuts for years - and backed Mr Javid over the Prime Minister.
He told the BBC's World at One: "The Home Office for the past 5 or 6 years has not been listening… the commission I chaired which reported three years ago wasn’t listened to.
"This has been actually predicted for a while and all you’ve got from the Home Office and particularly the Home Secretary at that time, who is now the Prime Minister, was ‘our reforms are working’."
Asked if Mrs May was capable of handling the problem, he added: "I don’t like criticising people when they’ve got massive problems and they are down but I doubt it."
In contrast, Lord Stevens heaped praise on Mr Javid, saying he had "the personality" and "the empathy" to help forces address the problem - and calling for him to chair the Downing Street summit in place of the Prime Minister.
"He understands the difficulties on the streets and he understand the difficulties that police are facing," the crossbench peer said.
He added: "I’ve met [Theresa May] on a number of occasions and I don’t think she listens to what she is being told, whether it has come as a result of what took place with the Police Federation when they insulted her - this antipathy and maybe dislike for policing. I just can’t work it out."