Police cuts not fuelling rise in violent crime, says Rudd

Home Secretary Amber Rudd

Home Secretary Amber Rudd

The document from February says that the fall in police numbers "may have encouraged" violent offenders.

Amber Rudd has denied seeing analysis from her own department which challenged her assertion that cuts to police were not to blame for rising violence.

It came as a leaked Home Office document said that cuts in police numbers are likely to have "encouraged" offenders to commit crimes because they know they are less likely to get caught.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd speaking about violent crime at the Coin St Neighbourhood Centre in London.

'One is the contention that there are not enough officers on the streets.

'The police like everyone else need to act within the law and if they believe the powers need to change then they will rightly talk to government and as we have shown today we will listen and if we need to extend those powers that is exactly what we will do'.

At a press conference to launch the £40million strategy, Ms Rudd said proposals for putting pressure on social media companies to delete gang content, restrictions on online knife sales and a ban on possessing corrosive substances in public would help tackle the problem.

The government's £40m strategy focuses on tackling the "county lines" drug trafficking system - which it partially blames for a rise in the number of violent incidents - and early intervention, community-based projects aimed at turning young people away from gangs, but has not yet set out where the funding will come from.

Last September there were 121,929 officers across the 43 forces in England and Wales, a drop of almost 20,000 in ten years.

'The Tories have slashed police funding and resources, leaving them struggling to cope with rising serious crime.

The final 115-page document contains little about the impact of increasing or decreasing police numbers, despite the research seen by the Guardian being clear on its findings and marked "official - sensitive".

'It's not just about police, of course it's not, it's about the wider public service and supporting families to make the right choices, ' she said.

The Home Secretary is expected to call for platforms to spell out explicitly that such material is forbidden on their sites. Since coming into power, the Conservatives have carried out significant police cuts.

The recent spate of violence has prompted scrutiny of a sharp reduction in stop and search activity, with use of the powers at the lowest level since current data records started 17 years ago. At the same time officers' numbers have fallen by 5% since 2014.

Mr Javid defended the Government's record, saying: "When Theresa May was home secretary, what she wanted to do was rightly make sure that when stop and search powers were used that they were used within the law".

Plans for the strategy were first announced in October but it has been finalised against a backdrop of calls for action after a spate of fatal stabbings and shootings in London.

Ms Rudd revealed that a new Offensive Weapons Bill will be introduced within weeks.

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