Boris Johnson Vows 'Tough' New Measures to Tackle UK's Knife Crime Epidemic
British prime minister pledges to 'come down hard on the scourge of knife crime'
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed "tough" new measures to fight the UK's spiraling knife crime epidemic.
PM Johnson is pledging a "tough new approach" to tackling knife crime and serious violence if he wins the upcoming election.
If the Conservatives return to Downing Street after 12 December, the prime minister warns criminals he will "come down hard on the scourge of knife crime."
Johnson's new plan includes:
- The party is promising to speed up the handling of knife possession cases, claiming that anyone caught unlawfully with a knife will be immediately arrested, charged within 24 hours and in court within a week - three times faster than the current average;
- Police will be "empowered" to target known knife carriers with what the Conservative Party says will be a "new" court order, which will make it easier for officers to stop and search those known to have carried weapons in the past;
- A £35m boost will be given to violence reduction units - multi-agency teams made up of the police, social services, and other agencies - in order to "champion preventative work and stop violence from happening in the first place."
"We have committed to putting an extra 20,000 police officers on our streets, but they need to have the powers to act decisively and effectively to prevent crime and see that offenders face justice," Boris said.
"That's why today we are announcing greater freedoms for the police to use stop and search on individuals who are known to have carried knives in the past."
"We are also speeding up prosecutions to make sure the threat of being caught is always an effective deterrent," Mr. Johnson added.
The PM announced plans to recruit an extra 20,000 police officers soon after entering Downing Street in the summer.
Johnson's calls for more police come after a steady fall in officer numbers since 2010, according to Sky News.
Home Office figures show the number of officers fell by more than 21,000 between 2010 and 2018 in England and Wales.
Amid this backdrop, there was a record high of 44,000 knife crimes in England and Wales in the 12 months to June 2019.
NHS England figures show hospital admissions for all injuries caused by an assault with a knife or sharp object have gone up by almost a third since 2013, to 4,986 last year.
Figures from the Ministry of Justice show that 38% of the 22,306 knife crime offenses in the year to the end of June (8,446) saw an immediate custodial sentence issued, compared with 29% 10 years ago.
Suspended sentences were handed down in 4,326 cases, which is the highest number since records began.
There were also rising rates of cautions and community sentences.
Responding to the PM's comments, Lib Dem deputy leader Ed Davey said the measures "won't actually do anything to make our communities safer."
Labour's shadow policing and crime minister Louise Haigh said the pledge to have anyone caught with a knife in court within seven days was "absolute nonsense" and "completely undeliverable" without investment "across the criminal justice system."
"This is headline-grabbing nonsense that sounds tough but is utterly useless and ultimately damaging," she added.
Elsewhere in the campaign:
- The Tories have pledged that child murderers will face life in prison without parole if the party wins the election;
- The party is also promising to protect forces personnel from "unfair" taxes in Scotland if it wins a majority;
- A Labour government would increase police numbers to help fight fox hunting, hare coursing, and other wildlife crimes;
- Ms. Swinson and the Lib Dems are promising to give the NHS a £35bn funding boost by raising income tax by a penny;
- Scotland's first minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon is calling for immigration powers to be devolved to Holyrood, labeling the current UK-wide policy a "disaster";
- The Green Party has launched its election manifesto, which includes plans to invest £100bn a year to tackle climate change.