Philip Hammond slaps down Sajid Javid over call for more police cash to fight knife crime
Philip Hammond has insisted the police have enough money to fight Britain's knife crime epidemic, despite calls for the Treasury to come up with more cash for frontline officers.
In a slapdown for Home Secretary Sajid Javid, the Chancellor said police chiefs should use “existing resources” to tackle the problem by diverting cash from other budgets.
His comments will serve as a blow for Mr Javid, who sparked a Cabinet row by calling for more money for police.
The Home Secretary will meet Mr Hammond tomorrow to discuss the demand, but the Chancellor this morning insisted police budgets were increasing.
“What we want to see now is a surging of resources from other areas of policing activity into dealing with this spike in knife crime,” he told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4.
“That is what you do in any organisation when you get a specific problem occuring in one area of the operation: you move resources to deal with that.”
He added: “The immediate challenge, not over months or years but over days and weeks, is to deal with this surge in knife crime.
“We can only do that by re-prioritising existing resources that are already trained and deployed and out there.”
Mr Hammond also hinted that there will be more money available for police to tackle knife crime if MPs agree a Brexit deal next week with a full 20-month transition period.
“If we get the right Brexit deal done and a smooth exit from the European Union, so that we can release the money that we have set aside to deal with the possible disruption of a no-deal exit, then that will give us more money still that we can put into public services over the next three years,” he argued.
'WE HAVE TO LISTEN'
There were 285 fatal stabbings in England and Wales last year - the highest number since records began in 1946. But since 2020 some 20,000 police officers have been cut.
After a meeting with police chiefs about the knife crime spike yesterday, Mr Javid declared: “I think police resources are very important to deal with this.
“We’ve got to do everything we can. I’m absolutely committed to working with the police in doing this. We have to listen to them when they talk about resources.”
The Guardian says forces are drawing up proposals to secure a minimum £15m one-off fund to pay for a “surge” in temporary officers targeted at knife crime hotspots.
According to reports, Mr Hammond rebuffed calls by the Home Secretary for more cash at a tense meeting of the Cabinet yesterday.
But the Chanellor rejected the claims - saying: "We didn't have an argument; this is a total fabrication."
Police budgets have an extra £460m available to them from this year and will have almost £1bn availale next year - but critics argue the sums do not cover the previous cuts, and that cuts in other areas have contribututed to rising crime.