Police chiefs are deliberately exaggerating the number of officers that will be lost as a result of funding changes, a Home Office minister has said.
The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) has warned a new £420m bill forces will be obliged to pay into the police pension scheme will see 10,000 fewer officers on the streets.
But policing minister Nick Hurd told MPs on Tuesday this was wrong. “I think the number is exaggerated – which is not unusual for the police,” he said.
Louise Haigh MP, Labour’s Shadow Policing Minister, said police chiefs would be “furious” at Hurd.
“This shows the absolute contempt the government has for our police and public safety,” she said.
The row came as the number of violent killings in London so far this year reached 119, after five fatal suspected stabbings in the space of a week.
Crime minister Victoria Atkins this week denied any surge in violent incidents on Britain’s streets is linked to cuts in police numbers.
“In the late 2000s there was a similar spike in violence and there were many, many more police officers on the streets in that day and age,” she told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme.
“The levels of violence which doctors are now seeing in A&Es show that incidents which before perhaps wouldn’t have resulted in fatalities now are resulting in fatalities.”
On Monday a 16-year-old boy was stabbed to death in Tulse Hill, south London.
Rocky Djelal, 38, was fatally stabbed in broad daylight in Southwark Park in Rotherhithe, south east London on Wednesday.
The following day, 15-year-old Jay Hughes was killed in Bellingham, also in south east London, by a stab wound to the heart.
Malcolm Mide-Madariola, 17, was fatally knifed on Friday outside Clapham South Tube station in south London, near where he studied.
And on Sunday, Ayodeji Habeeb Azeez, 22, from Dagenham was fatally stabbed in Samos Road, Anerley, also in south London.
Sadiq Khan, the Labour Mayor of London, has warned it could take a generation to turn the tide of violent crime in the capital.