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£100m Pledged For Police to Tackle Knife Crime

£100m Pledged For Police to Tackle Knife Crime


Chancellor Phillip Hammond has vowed that police forces across the country will receive an extra £100m in funding to help tackle the knife crime “epidemic.” The additional funding is to be specifically ring-fenced to pay for additional overtime to fund officers working in busy, knife-crime hotspot areas.

The majority of the funding will go to the Metropolitan Police and South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, South Wales and West Midlands forces. The Chancellor of the Exchequer added that Home Secretary Sajid Javid will work with police ahead of the next spending review to ensure that future police resources including “newly funded manpower” are prioritised.

£80m of the funding boost will come from the Treasury and £20m from the Home Office budget, with an additional £6m to come from the £175m police transformation fund.

In his speech, Mr. Hammond underlined the need for urgent government action to tackle “devastating” knife violence, assuring:

“We know action is needed to tackle knife crime, which is blighting communities around the country".

Weapons offences reach highest level in nine years

England and Wales have seen a dramatic increase in knife crime in the past few years, with official statistics showing that the criminal justice system dealt with the highest number of knife and offensive weapon offences for nearly a decade last year.

According to data from the Ministry of Justice, more than 21,000 offences were formally dealt with in the courts last year – marking the highest number since 2009. However, only 37% of these cases (around 8,000) resulted in a conviction and prison sentence for the offenders.

42 out of 44 police forces across the country have recorded an increase in knife-related offences since 2011. In total, 39,818 knife offences were recorded from September 2017-18, up by two-thirds from the number in 2014. 20% of offences last year involved a person under the age of 18.

On the most serious end of the spectrum, knife crime related deaths rose across England and Wales last year, with 285 knife homicides from March 2017-18 marking the most fatal stabbings in a 12 month period since 1946. With at least 43 people having been fatally stabbed in the UK so far this year alone, it appears that the problem is continuing to grow.

Police chiefs deem boost helpful, but inadequate to replenish forces

The pledged boost in funding has been welcomed by campaigners and policy leaders, with many attributing the increase in weapon offences and low conviction rate to austerity cuts hitting police funding.

Across England and Wales, police forces have seen a 20,000 drop in officers from 141,800 to 121,900 since 2010, with policing funding falling by 20% in real terms between 2010-17. The number of police and community support officers on the streets dropped from 16,300 to 9,791 over the same period.

Chairwoman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council Sara Thornton said the additional funding would “help [forces] to increase the number of officers available to carry out targeted patrols in crime hotspots, increase our use of stop and search, and disrupt gangs and crime groups.”

West Midlands police and crime commissioner David Jamieson however said the cash injection was not enough to repair the damage that cuts of £175m has done to his force, and would only “partially cover the extra funding needed in the short term.”

Home secretary Mr Javid last year promised a £970m increase in police funding in 2019-20, taking total funding to approximately £14bn for the next financial year.

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