Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick has said she is “sure” that police cuts are one of the factors that have led to a rise in violent crime on London’s streets.
Answering a listener’s question on LBC on Friday, Britain’s most senior police officer said that there were “lots of reasons” for the increase - but that she would be “naive” to ignore reductions in police budgets.
“We are definitely seeing an increase and I think there’s lots of reasons for it,” Dick said. “There’s a connection . . . to the drugs markets and what’s going on with those, undoubtedly.
“I think there’s obviously been some changes in people’s financial and economic circumstances that affect all kinds of things which have a direct or indirect effect on young people,” she continued, also pointing towards social media and the “glamorisation of violence”.
“There’s a whole load of things, but of course I would be naive to say that the reduction in police finances over the last few years, not just in London but beyond, hasn’t had an impact,” Dick continued.
“I’m sure it’s had an impact. It’s part of the issue, and that’s why I’m very grateful for the new money that we’ve got, which we are getting on spending and investing on recruiting new people and I think it will help a lot.”
In February, it was announced that Mayor of London Sadiq Khan would be increasing the Met’s budget by £110 million in a bid to combat knife crime and boost the force’s numbers.
“I’m hoping that we will get to well over 30,500 officers — more than 500 more than we currently have by the end of next year,” the commissioner said.
It is thought to be the first time Dick has linked cuts made during Theresa May’s time as Home Secretary to rising levels of violent crime.
Her comments follow the murder of a 24-year-old man in east London this week, who was stabbed to death in Barking on Thursday evening. No arrests have yet been made.
Media reports suggest that 60 murder investigations have been launched by the Met Police since the start of 2018.
However, the Guardian reported earlier this week that conviction rates for rapes and murder in the capital have fallen dramatically since 2016, with one in three murders remaining unsolved.
The government last month launched a £40 million serious violence strategy in a “major shift” in its response to knife and gun crime, including a new £11 million early intervention youth fund for community projects.