Tackling serious violence is not a law enforcement issue alone, according to a key government strategy published amid a row over the impact of police numbers on a surge in violent crime in Britain.
The impact of police levels is conspicuous by its absence from the government’s much-hyped serious violence strategy, which was published by the Home Office on Monday after the Guardian revealed department research had concluded that the fall in the number of police was likely to have contributed to an increase in knife and gun #crime.
The leak threatened to overshadow the broader findings of the strategy, such as the impact of drug markets, social and economic disadvantages and social media, at a time when deaths on British streets, particularly in London, have surged. There have been more than 50 suspected murders in the capital this year.
Amber Rudd, the home secretary, said she had not seen the leaked research papers but a further release to the Guardian late on Monday revealed the issue of police resourceswas clearly raised in the executive summary of the document, suggesting that the authors considered it among the most important conclusions.
It reads: “Serious violence within a drugs context is likely to be facilitated by four other factors: i) a shift in police resources meaning less proactive policing … and falls in arrests/charges relating to serious violence and drug trafficking offences.” The summary also lists social media and increases in homelessness as contributory factors.
The final 115-page document contains little about effect of increasing or decreasing police numbers, despite the research seen by the Guardian being clear on its findings and marked “official – sensitive”. The report was commissioned by Rudd.
Home Office statistics show the number of police officers fell from 143,734 in March 2010 to 123,142 in March 2017.
Rudd said earlier it would be a mistake to focus on the falling numbers.
A graph on police-recorded robberies in the leaked research paper features on page 25 of the final document.
The strategy appears to fall in line with the home secretary’s position, who in her foreword to the document says: “I am clear we cannot arrest our way out of this issue.”