Knife crime: police demand return of stop and search

Theresa May accused of reducing controversial powers to fit 'political agenda'

Knife crime
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A senior police leader has called for nationwide return of controversial stop and search powers to combat the knife crime crisis after two 17-year-olds were stabbed to death in Manchester and London over the weekend.

Writing for the Daily Telegraph, Richard Cooke, the chairman of the West Midlands Police Federation, said stop and search, which allows officers to search suspects without needing specific grounds, has “paid dividends” in Birmingham, where scores of deadly weapons have been confiscated since the powers were introduced last week.

He added: “Arrests are up, and dangerous weapons have been removed from the streets.”

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Cooke’s call is supported by Stu Berry, the chairman of the Manchester Police Federation, where detectives are probing the fatal stabbing of student Yousef Makki.

Berry claimed Theresa May has endeavoured to reduce stop and search to “fit a political agenda”. He added: “Stop and search is at an all-time low and knife crime is at an all-time high. This cause and effect is not difficult to understand, is it?”

May introduced reforms as home secretary in 2014 to ensure stop and search was used in a more focused way, amid criticism that it was being used disproportionately against young black men. In 2016-17, there were 303,845 uses of stop and searches in England and Wales, a 21% fall compared with the previous 12 months

The prime minister is also under fire for her insistence that there is “no direct correlation between certain crimes and police numbers”. Outrage over her remark has been widespread.

Mark Burns-Williamson, the chairman of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, told The Guardian that cuts to police numbers nationwide and cuts to youth services had created “a toxic mix”.

He added: “If we had more police officers and resources, which have been cut over the last eight to nine years, we would be in a better position.”

The government has cut police funding by £250m since 2010, resulting in the loss of 2,000 police officers and 1,000 non-police staff.

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