Metropolitan Police chief says extra funding would help 'stretched' force combat violent crime

Cressida Dick's comments come after the Government called on police to take more money from council tax

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Wednesday 27 December 2017 20:58 GMT
Cressida Dick said a criminal investigation could not proceed without the government referring the case and handing over evidence
Cressida Dick said a criminal investigation could not proceed without the government referring the case and handing over evidence (Getty)

Britain’s most senior police officer has said extra resources could be used to fight violent crime amid a dispute with the Government over funding.

Cressida Dick, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, described her force and all public services as “stretched”.

“We need to focus on what matters most and violence on our streets is a big risk for Londoners,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“If you ask any police chief they will always want more resources, of course they will.

"And I know exactly where I'd put them if I had more resources. And it would be into this issue [of knife crime].“

Ms Dick said the rising number of stabbings was beginning to “stabilise” in London, while moped-enabled crimes were beginning to slow.

Amber Rudd unveils new crackdown on knife crime

"We have got a lot of knife carrying and we are bearing down very hard - we have taken thousands and thousands of knives off the streets,” she added.

“We are doing stop and search, we are doing it in an intelligent way, and we are stopping and searching those people we know are prolific knife carriers.”

The Commissioner championed efforts to send officers into schools, recruit young police cadets and ensure children’s first experience with police was “positive” after being criticised for comments on young offenders.

Ms Dick suggested harsher jail terms could deter teenagers driving a spate of knife crime in London, amid a prisons crisis and evidence that imprisonment does prevent stop reoffending.

“We need a blend of better engagement by public services, more diversion and more imaginative community resolution to help keep as many young people out of prison as possible,” she said in November.

“For debate, should we couple that with harsher more effective sentencing? It is clear other approaches are no longer working.”

Arguing that an increasing number of young people do not fear state action, Ms Dick said London’s crime wave was being driven by a “core group of young offenders” repeatedly committing assault and robbery “with relative impunity”.

Defending her comments, the Commissioner said she was proud of a 66 per cent reduction in the number of young people being imprisoned over the past decade.

“I think in London we have a cohort of young people for whom violent has become a way of life really quite young,” she added.

“If somebody is going to go into custody because the public need to be protected, they are very violent…all research tends to suggest that short sentences are not particularly effective in terms of rehabilitation.

”It doesn't give a young person the chance to change their life in a short sentence, so that's all I was saying.“

Her comments came after the Government prompted outrage by calling on elected police and crime commissioners to increase the amount of money taken from council tax to generate the money needed to fight rising crime and terror.

The Home Office used the assumed - but unconfirmed – increase in the “policing precept” to claim police funding would increase by a total of £450m in the coming financial year.

Police leaders say their officers have become the “service of last resort” to fill gaps in mental health provision and other public services, despite being at the lowest number since 1985.

Recorded crimes have risen by 13 per cent in a year, including a surge in acid attacks, stabbings, sexual offences and cyber crime.

(ONS
(ONS (ONS)

The Metropolitan Police has already instructed officers to stop investigating some “low-level crimes” as it works to save £400m by 2020 and other forces are believed to be enacting or considering similar policies.

Last month, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary said forces were failing to respond to low-priority offences because of “significant stress” caused by budget cuts and rising demand.

Inspector Mike Cunningham warned that some offences were waiting a long time to be solved or even seeing “nothing done at all”, adding: “Under austerity and under cut-backs, the requirement to prioritise has become more acute in recent years.”

According to financial plans drawn up by police forces before last week’s funding announcement, revenue expenditure would fall by 6 per cent from £12.3bn this year to £11.6bn in 2020/21.

The Home Office said the budget for counter-terror policing will go up by 7 per cent in the 2018/19 financial year, seeing a £50m increase to at least £757m.

There will also be £130m extra for Government priorities such as digital technology, and special grants to help forces with exceptional costs.

Police forces will have access to £175m Police Transformation Fund to drive new technology and reform.

The Home Office said it had identified around £100m of “potential savings to be made through smarter procurement of everything from cars to uniforms” and called on police to save money by increasing productivity and mobile working.

Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, said the settlement would “ensure forces have the resources they need to keep us safe”, having previously told senior police officers to stop asking for more money to combat a rise in recorded crime, violence, 999 calls and terrorism.

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