Amber Rudd denies seeing leaked report that suggested link between police cuts and violent crime

An internal paper prepared by Home Office officials said cuts had "likely contributed" to rising violence

Lizzy Buchan
Political Correspondent
Monday 09 April 2018 11:43 BST
Amber Rudd denies seeing leaked report that suggested link between police cuts and violent crime

Amber Rudd has admitted that she has not seen a leaked Home Office document suggesting a link between police cuts and a surge in serious violent crime, as she prepared to launch a £40m strategy to curb offending.

The home secretary said it was a "mistake" to focus on police numbers - which have fallen by more than 20,000 since 2010 - after it emerged that an internal paper prepared by her officials said cuts had "likely contributed" to rising violence.

As the number of killings in London soared beyond 50 since the start of the year, Ms Rudd also admitted she had not met any bereaved families.

Ahead of the launch of her crackdown on violent crime, a leaked document for the strategy said offenders may have been "encouraged" by the lack of police resources and fall in charge rates.

The document, obtained by The Guardian, risks embarrassing ministers including Ms Rudd who have insisted that a decline in the number of officers could not be linked to a rise in violent crime.

It comes as she pledged to do "whatever it takes" to make Britain's streets safe.

Ms Rudd told the Today programme: "I haven't seen this document.

"There are a lot of documents that go round the Home Office. We do a lot of work in this area.

"Of course violent crime is a priority. I think that you do a disservice to the communities and the families by making this a political tit-for-tat about police numbers."

Asked if she had met bereaved families, she said: "This year, no I haven't but I have met them in the past when they have been bereaved and it is always a harrowing moment.

"What I do is I listen to them because my experience is that what families want... is they want me to listen them and out of respect for them, that is what I do."

She acknowledged the police were "under new pressures" but pointed to an increase in reporting of new types of crimes, particularly over child exploitation.

Ms Rudd said: "I think it is a mistake and we do a disservice to the communities and the families who have seen these tragedies by just pointing to police numbers.

"This is a complex crime, a complex area, it is not all about police numbers."

She added: "If you listen to senior police officers like Cressida Dick, they will say that is a complex crime and you cannot arrest your way out of this."

The home secretary said that in 2008 when there were 143,000 police officers "we had the highest number of knife crime we'd had in decades".

"What we have seen is a complete change in crime, that's why we need to address it," she said.

The new Serious Violence Strategy will:

* Call on social media companies to do more to rid the web of violent gang content

* Set out tough restrictions on online sales of knives following concerns that age verification checks can be sidestepped

* Make it a criminal offence to possess corrosive substances in a public place

* Reveal plans to consult on extending stop and search powers so police can use the tactics to seize acid from suspects carrying it without good reason

* Make it illegal to possess certain weapons, including zombie knives and knuckle-dusters, in private

Unveiling the blueprint on Monday, Ms Rudd was due to say: "We will take the comprehensive approach necessary to make sure that our sons and daughters are protected and our streets are safe.

"As a Government, we will never stand by while acid is thrown or knives wielded.

"I am clear that we must do whatever it takes to tackle this so that no parent has to bury their child."

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