UK Knife Crime Rose in Year Police Stop and Search Fell

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 12: (EDITORS NOTE: Part of this image has been pixellated to obscure identity) Suspects are detained and searched by police officers after being arrested for alleged possession of a dangerous weapon near Elephant and Castle Station during Operation Sceptre on July 12, 2017 in London, England. …
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VICTORIA FRIEDMAN

Knife crime in England and Wales soared in the same year that stop and search by police fell to its lowest level, statistics reveal.

In the year to March 2018, police conducted 282,248 stops and searches of individuals suspected of carrying a weapon or drugs, down eight percent from the same period in the previosu year when 304,132 searches were carried out.

The figure represents the lowest number of searches since record-taking began in March 2002, according to the government’s Police Powers and Procedures report published Thursday.

The number of arrests resulting from stop and search also fell by seven percent compared with the previous year (from 51,844 to 48,014).

The drop in figures coincides with another dataset released, also on Thursday, by the Home Affairs Select Committee which states that policing is in danger of becoming “irrelevant” to the public after recorded crime has increased nearly by one third in just three years but that charges had dropped by more than one quarter.

In addition, figures published by the Crime Survey last week found that one in five people in England and Wales had experienced crime and that London had hit its highest ever recorded level of knife crime.

Stop and search police powers were curtailed by then-Home Secretary Theresa May — now Prime Minister — in 2014 in response to pressure from leftists who said that the tactic was “racist” and disproportionately targetted young, black men.

However, the government has partially walked back its previous position with the Home Office announcing in September it would extend the power to including searching those suspected of carrying corrosive substances in response to the rising threat of acid attacks.

Thursday’s report noted: “The rate of reduction in stop and searches accelerated following the then Home Secretary’s decision in 2014 to re-focus the use of such powers but has fallen less sharply in the latest year. In part this is thought to reflect the Met Police Commissioner’s encouragement to make greater use of such powers as part of the operational response to knife crime in the capital.”

Even with the dramatic fall in stop and search — where at its height in 2011 1,229,324 searches were carried out — then-candidate for Mayor of London Sadiq Khan vowed to curtail the Metropolitan Police’s use of the power even further if he were elected.

The Labour Mayor has seen, since his election, a steep rise in knife crime, resulting in his policy reversal in January 2018 where he said that he would instruct the Met to “significantly increase” their use of the powers in an attempt to deal with the city’s crime epidemic.

At Tory Party conference in October, former foreign secretary and former London mayor Boris Johnson — who oversaw an increase in the use of stop and search which he said helped cut youth violence and the murder rate in the capital — said that it was time to “end the politically correct nonsense that has endangered the lives of young people” and bring back “systematic stop and search”.

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