Theresa May has dismissed claims that an increase in police numbers will help solve knife crime, insisting that there is “no direct correlation” between the two.
Speaking after a spate of knife violence, the prime minister said on Monday that she would tackle the root causes of the crisis. However, as police officers and politicians called for more help to deal with the violence, May said it was not a question of resources.
There was “no direct correlation between certain crimes and police numbers”, the former home secretary said. “What matters is how we ensure that police are responding to these criminal acts when they take place, that people are brought to justice.”
However, the current home secretary, Sajid Javid, responding to an urgent question on knife crime in the Commons on Monday, said police must be given the resources to tackle violence.
Javid, who will chair a meeting of police chiefs on Wednesday to discuss the issue, said he would launch a consultation on making the fight against violent crime a statutory public health duty, urging all parts of the public sector to prioritise it.
May’s remarks will frustrate critics who say cuts to police and youth services are a key factor in knife crime. The Metropolitan police said they could not “magic officers out of thin air” to tackle the problem.
In a thinly veiled plea for more resources, the deputy assistant commissioner, Graham McNulty, pointed out that police shifts have had to be extended after a series of knife attacks, including the murder in Romford of Jodie Chesney, 17, on Friday.
That attack was followed by the murder of Yousef Makki, also 17, in Greater #Manchester, and a rash of warnings that knife violence was out of control. Figures released by Channel 4’s Dispatches on Monday revealed there had been a 93% rise in hospital admissions for knife attacks on under-16s since 2012.
On Monday Yousef’s family described him as “a loving and caring son and brother” who meant the world to them.
“He was a sporty young man, a dedicated student and so bright. He had everything to look forward to,” they said. “We are absolutely devastated and cannot believe that our son has gone.”
They said his death had affected the whole community.