Diane Abbott: Government trying to 'cover-up' police cuts through stop and search support
Diane Abbott has said the Government's renewed backing of stop and search powers is merely an attempt to mask their "failure" to tackle violent crime.
The Shadow Home Secretary’s comments follow Amber Rudd saying ministers have given police the power to use “targeted” and "intelligence-led" stop and search as a "vital" part of fighting violent crimes including knife and acid attacks.
Writing in The Times, Ms Rudd said: "I want to be crystal clear — we have given the police the powers they need and officers who use stop and search appropriately, with reasonable grounds and in a targeted and intelligence-led way, will always have my full support.
"This includes using stop and search to confront the use of acid as an appalling weapon of violence. The power is a vital tool to keep the public safe and officers who use it correctly should have the full support of the public and commanding officers."
But the Home Secretary’s opposite number said the Government’s support for the controversial tactic – which has been branded discriminatory against certain communities by opponents – merely masks over cuts to frontline policing.
“Labour supports evidence-based stop and search, not a return to the bad old days of discriminatory stops that focus on particular communities,” Ms Abbott said.
“Police officers should be confident in doing their job, but the Tories have overseen a huge cut in police numbers. Simply granting police additional powers won’t make up for that shortfall."
She added: “The Government should stop trying to con the public by attempting to cover up their failure to tackle rising violent crime - when the crime stats were released they insisted crime was falling, but now want to increase stop and search."
Ms Abbott further reiterated her party's pledge to put an additional 10,000 police officers on the beat.
Her comments follow the release of coinciding reports last month which showed police numbers have fallen at a time when crime was on the rise.
While a Government report found the number of officers in crime-fighting roles to have fallen by 1% in the year to March 2017, an ONS report revealed police in England and Wales recorded nearly 5 million offences – up by 10%.