Government 'failing to act' as knife-point robberies increase by almost a third

3 August 2020, 22:30

Knife crime robberies in England and Wales have risen by 31 per cent
Knife crime robberies in England and Wales have risen by 31 per cent. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Labour has accused the government of "failing to act" after the latest figures show knife-point robberies are up by almost a third.

Offences involving a knife have increased in every police force in England and Wales over the past 10 years, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics.

Knife crime has at least doubled in a third of constabularies and, over the past 10 years, there has been a 16 per cent increase in homicides involving a knife, while knife-point robberies are up 31 per cent.

Labour's shadow home office minister Sarah Jones said offences involving the weapons have risen "as a result of Tory cuts to the police and preventative services."

She added: "The government have spent years announcing summits, strategies, and taskforces - but they have failed to act, with knife crime continuing to rise across the country on their watch.

"More warm words from ministers will not help communities across the country that are blighted by knife crime.

"This Conservative government needs to explain how it will fix the national knife crime crisis that was born on their watch."

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Responding, policing minister Kit Malthouse said: "As deputy mayor for policing in London I successfully fought the last spike in knife crime which grew under Ken Livingstone as mayor and a Labour government, so attempts to politicise what is a complex and difficult problem seem cheap and unpleasant to me.

"It would be more helpful if Sir Keir Starmer's Labour Party was consistent in their approach to crime and supported what we and our violence reduction units are doing to confront this challenge.

"Instead Labour's opposition to stop and search would deprive the police of a vital tool in their arsenal against knife crime and despite calling for more to be done, Labour have voted against increased police funding.

"The Conservatives are taking the urgent action needed to tackle knife crime and keep our communities safe - hiring 20,000 additional police officers, investing millions to tackle county lines and locking violent criminals up for longer, as well as doing the long-term work to turn young people away from violence."

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The government has previously said the 20,000 police officers “will be additional to officers hired to fill existing vacancies," with 6,000 recruited in the first year and 14,000 over the following two years.

However, more than 20,000 police officers roles were cut during austerity years, meaning the new recruits would get the country back to 2010 levels.

With the population of England and Wales estimated to have increased by roughly 3.5 million people in the past 10 years, the number of officers per person across the two nations would still be below the figure for 2010.

Meanwhile, other parts of the service, such as police staff, PCSOs and special constables have also experienced a reduction in numbers in the past decade, while the total police workforce has fallen by more than 40,000 people since March 2010.