Leaked Home Office document says police cuts likely fuelled violent crime surge
Cuts in police force numbers are likely to have fuelled the surge in violent crime, according to a leaked Home Office document.
Officials working on a new strategy to combat knife and gun crime in England and Wales said offenders may have been “encouraged” by a lack of resources, the document seen by the BBC and the Guardian says.
The leak is deeply embarrassing for the Government, which has insisted the fall in officer numbers has not contributed to the spike in crimes.
More than 50 people have already died on the streets of London this year as a result of a series of stabbings and shootings.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is set to place the issue at the heart of the party's local elections campaign launch today - accusing the Tories of "reckless failure".
Home Secretary Amber Rudd will later launch a new strategy in an attempt to turn the tide on violent crime - including £40m in funding and a drive to crack down on the drugs industry.
But a draft of the strategy from February said an increase in recorded sex offences since 2012 coupled with a fall in officer numbers has put forces under serious strain.
"So resources dedicated to serious violence have come under pressure and charge rates have dropped. This may have encouraged offenders,” it said.
It notes that resource pressure is not the “main driver” but has "likely contributed", and points to the fact that forces will the biggest falls in personnel are not seeing the biggest rises in violent crime.
'NO PARENT SHOULD BURY THEIR CHILD'
Ms Rudd will today lay out plans to crack down on the sale and possession of knives and acid and measures to prevent the trafficking of drugs from cities into less urban areas.
She will say: “This strategy represents a real step-change in the way we think about and respond to these personal tragedies, these gruesome violent crimes which dominate the front pages of our newspapers with seemingly depressing regularity.
“We will take the comprehensive approach necessary to make sure that our sons and daughters are protected and our streets are safe.”
And she will add: “I am clear that we must do whatever it takes to tackle this so that no parent has to bury their child.”
But Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott condemned the Government for having “only just woken up” to the problem, and branded the £40m a “small-scale” investment.
She added: “Labour will hold the Government to account to ensure that even these limited funds are not taken from elsewhere in the police budget.”
Meanwhile, Mr Corbyn will focus on police cuts and the surge in violent crime as he launches his party’s local election campaign later today.
He will argue: "You simply cannot maintain community cohesion when you slash funding to the police service and cut the number of officers on our streets by 21,000.
"You cannot protect local communities when you cut funding to local councils to such an extent they are unable to provide the essential youth service support that stops many young people from being drawn into violent crime.
"The Tory record on policing and crime is one of reckless failure. Plain and simple - you can't have security on the cheap and cuts have consequences. Too many communities are living with those consequences."