‘Government is in denial on knife crime - austerity and police cuts to blame’

The country is facing major problems with knife crime, but police are short staffed Picture: ARCHAN

The country is facing major problems with knife crime, but police are short staffed Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

The seemingly never-ending reports of knife crime taking place across the country are deeply worrying.

Young lives are being cut short before they have had any chance to fulfil their potential.

What is equally worrying is that senior Government ministers seem to be in complete denial about the root causes of this.

Years and years of austerity have not only cut all the services dedicated to keeping our youngsters on the straight and narrow, they have also cut the one service that might have been able to keep a lid on the inevitable fall-out – our police.

Increased levels of violent crime were not only predictable, they were predicted by many.

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We now have over 20,000 fewer police officers compared to 2010.

It is blatantly obvious that we do not have enough police to cope with the demands placed upon them.

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I am told repeatedly by police officers I come in contact with on a day-to-day basis that they are short staffed. Members of the public tell me they have stopped reporting crimes because they don’t believe anything will be done.

But Theresa May, one of the most obstinate and pig-headed Prime Ministers we’ve ever had, continues to deny, contrary to overwhelming evidence, that cuts to police numbers are contributing to the current surge in crime.

A strongly worded statement from the Police Federation has called Theresa May “delusional”.

It’s hard to disagree with their anger. They have repeatedly warned of the damage that police cuts would do but she accused them of “crying wolf”.

Of course, it’s not in her interest to admit the connection because she was the Home Secretary that forced through police cuts. If she admits the cuts are to blame then she has to accept that she personally is to blame.

It takes at least two years to fully train a police constable so a decision to increase police numbers needs to be made now. The obvious time to do this is the Chancellor’s Spring Statement on Wednesday.

But if the Prime Minister won’t accept the connection between police cuts and rising crime, what hope is there that she will order the necessary reversal of these cuts?

• David Ellesmere is the leader of Ipswich Borough Council.

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