An extra £100m is to be made available to police forces in England and Wales over the course of the next year “to pay for additional overtime targeted specifically on knife crime”, the chancellor has said.
Philip Hammond’s announcement came after increased pressure from police chiefs as a spate of fatal stabbings led to renewed focus on the response to knife crime and fresh debate over police resources.
Total funding for forces in England and Wales fell by 19% in real terms from 2010-11 and 2018-19, according to the National Audit Office. Officer numbers have dropped by nearly 20,000 since 2010.
The home secretary, Sajid Javid, tweeted: “It’s vital police have the resources they need to crack down on the rising levels of knife crime. I’ve listened and we will be giving £100m extra to forces, targeting the hardest-hit areas. I’ll continue to give police the support they need.”The chairwoman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, Sara Thornton, said: “It will help police forces strengthen our immediate response toknife crime and serious violence.
“Bringing violence down is a police priority. We know what works to bring down violence and this additional funding will help us to increase the number of officers available to carry out targeted patrols in crime hotspots, increase our use of stop and search, and disrupt gangs and crime groups.”
John Apter, the chairman of the Police Federation, which represents tens of thousands of rank-and-file officers and was among the most vocal critics of the government, welcomed the announcement but said it was a short-term solution.
“While the funding is welcome, it is, however, just a short-term fix as knife crime and violent crime continues to plague our towns and cities. We still urgently need additional resources to solve this issue in the long run,” he said.
“The government must make a significant investment in the spending review to give police the long-term boost they need.”
But the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, Ed Davey, said: “Faced with the current epidemic of knife crime claiming the lives of so many young people, the government’s response today is shockingly inadequate.
“The Conservatives have cut £1bn from police budgets since 2015, and now they offer just £80m back. They have taken 5,000 police officers and 2,600 community support officers off the streets, and now they offer to fund some extra overtime.
“This is an insult to our hardworking police and an insult to the victims of knife crime and their families.”
Earlier this year, it was disclosed that the number of fatal stabbings in England and Wales had risen to its highest level since records began more than 70 years ago.