Serious Violence

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:49 pm on 15th May 2019.

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Photo of Sajid Javid Sajid Javid The Secretary of State for the Home Department 2:49 pm, 15th May 2019

It is not the only increase. In the previous year, I think it was around £460 million—something over £400 million, anyway—and this is double what it was the previous year, so I cannot confirm that because it is not correct.

The police also told me they needed more powers, so we are changing the law through the Offensive Weapons Bill, which is expected to gain Royal Assent tomorrow. The Bill will make it harder for young people to buy knives or acid and will introduce the knife crime protection orders that police asked for. They also told me they needed urgent support to deal with the immediate challenge. They asked for £50 million, but I doubled it to £100 million, with two thirds going straight to the police. Last week, I announced that £63.4 million of that had been allocated to the 18 worst-affected forces. It will pay for surge activity and additional patrols. A further £1.6 million will help to improve the quality of data to support planning and operations, with the remaining £35 million being used to support the creation of violence reduction units.

The police also told me they wanted targeted stop-and-search—because it works. The Met Commissioner, Cressida Dick, has linked its increased use in hotspot areas to the fall in youth stabbings. For that reason, I have made it simpler for the police to use these powers by relaxing the rules on section 60 searches in seven of the worst-hit areas. At least 3,000 more officers can now authorise searches in areas where violence is anticipated, which will help to take more weapons off our streets.

Last year alone, police in England and Wales made nearly 8,000 arrests for possession of weapons and firearms following a stop-and-search, so it undoubtedly works, but we will continue to work with the police and communities to ensure its use remains targeted and intelligence-led. Of course, officers should never search people based on their race or ethnicity. This is not about any specific community; it is about protecting those most at risk. A black person is four times more likely to be a victim of homicide than a white person. In London, 53% of knife crime victims are from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background. If the targeted use of stop-and-search can save any one of these victims, it can only be a good thing.