Johnson Pledges More Police, Increased Stop and Search, Harsher Punishments for Violent and Sex Crimes

(L-R) Britain's Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, Britain's International Trade Secretary Liz Truss, Britain's Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock, Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid, Britain's Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, Britain's Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary …
AARON CHOWN/AFP/Getty Images

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called for an increase in stop and search, longer prison sentences for perpetrators who commit violent and sexual crimes, and pledged to put 20,000 new police officers on the streets of Britain to fight the rising tide of violent crime in the country.

Addressing the House of Commons on Thursday in his first statement as prime minister, Mr Johnson plans to put “more police on the streets”, allocating funds to “address the rising tide of violence and rising violent crime in our country”.

“I have announced there will be 20,000 extra police keeping us safe over the next three years, and I have asked my Right Honourable Friend the home secretary [Priti Patel] to ensure that this is treated as an absolute priority,” Prime Minister Johnson said.

“We will give greater powers… to the police to use stop and search to help tackle violent crime,” he added, continuing that he was drafting proposed reforms so that “those found guilty of the most serious sexual and violent offences are required to serve a custodial sentence that truly reflects the severity of their offence and policy measures that will see the reduction of prolific offenders”.

Violent crime had risen by one-fifth in England and Wales in one year, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, with the countries seeing 112 knife crimes every day. London continues to have the highest proportion of knife-related crime.

During the October Conservative Party conference, the former mayor of London called for the government to “end the politically correct nonsense that has endangered the lives of young people” and bring back “systematic stop and search”.

Mr Johnson, who was mayor of  London from 2008 to 2016, had overseen an increase in the use of stop and search in the capital which he said reduced the murder rate by 50 per cent and resulted in there being “fewer than 100 [murders] for four or five year running”.

Stop and Search allows police to stop and search people if they have “reasonable grounds” to suspect that person is carrying stolen property, drugs, or a weapon. However, leftists and progressives in the Conservative Party called for the police powers to be reduced, on grounds that it was racist.

In 2014, then-home secretary Theresa May dramatically reduced the police power, alleging that the tactic was “unfair, especially to young black men”. By the end of 2016, knife crime had soared to a five-year high. When Mr Johnson’s successor, Labour’s Sadiq Khan, took office, he made good on his campaign pledge to reduce the power further, contributing to a steep climb in knife crime in the capital.

However, Mayor Khan was forced to reverse his position on stop and search in early 2018 after a rise in stabbings, acid attacks, shootings, and youth homicides across London. Then-home secretary Sajid Javid called for the Met to increase their use of the powers after five fatal stabbings in less than a week in November, with May being forced to u-turn on her position in April following a spate of stabbings across the capital.

In the chamber on Thursday, Prime Minister Johnson made an impassioned defence of his increase of stop and search in London, which he has called to be revived and rolled out across the country, saying: “The way we reduced knife crime in London was by a very active policy of stop and search which I know the [Labour] party opposite opposes, but they are wrong.

“We took thousands of knives off the streets of London — 11,000 knives. We saved lives across the city.”

In 2018, Mr Johnson criticised Mr Khan for his failure to tackle crime, saying the Labour London mayor was more interested in “politically correct virtue signalling about stop and search” than tackling crime.

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