Sajid Javid has called on Britain’s largest police force to step up its response to knife crime following a fresh spate of stabbings, while hinting more cash could be made available for frontline services.
The Home Secretary urged Scotland Yard to make full use of police powers, including stop and search, as its officers seek to end the bloodshed.
It comes after two men were fighting for their lives after being stabbed in broad daylight in London on Wednesday. Five others have died following knife attacks in the past seven days – bringing the total lives lost during violent incidents in the capital this year to 118.
Javid called Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick for an update on the recent series of knife-related deaths.
He acknowledged that it was a national issue, while recognising the particular challenge in London.
According to a read-out of the call, Home Secretary told Dick on Wednesday: “We must act together, and I stand with you as we face this challenge.
“Alongside tough law enforcement we will not let up on our work to prevent young people getting drawn into knife crime in the first place.
“But we must step up the police response to get the situation under control so that these measures have time to work.”
Javid told Dick that he was “deeply worried” by the level of violent crime faced by officers on the streets and reiterated his commitment to focus on driving it down, the Home Office said.
He also stressed his determination to make sure the police have the powers and tools they need and said he would do everything within in his power to support them, while hinting more cash could soon be made available.
The Home Secretary told Sky News this week: “I think resources is part of the issue, making sure that police as they deal with more of these complex situations that they have the resource they need.
“That is why I welcome the commitment by the chancellor just a week ago to sit down with me and discuss what resource is needed for the police and we have the December settlement just a few weeks away, so this is something that can be looked at very, very quickly.”
Home Office figures released last month revealed that forces in England and Wales conducted 282,248 stops and searches in the 12 months to March – the lowest number since current data collection started 17 years ago.
The tactics have previously attracted controversy amid criticism they unfairly focused on black and minority ethnic individuals.
Reforms were introduced in 2014 by then home secretary Theresa May to ensure stop and search was used in a more targeted way.
Since his appointment, Javid has backed a boost in the use of the powers as officers and ministers attempt to bear down on spiralling levels of serious violence.
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said: “Police have the powers but what they don’t have is the resources.
“Police chiefs, rank and file officers and even Home Office officials are telling the Home Secretary the problem is cuts to the police which have hampered their ability to tackle the surge in violence. Cuts he voted for time and time again.
“Evidence based stop and search is an important tool in fighting crime but random stops poison police community relations.
“The government must urgently bring forward the resources to increase police officer numbers by 10,000 to keep our communities safe.”
New research published this week found that children may be most at risk of being stabbed as they make their way home from school.