Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to expand the police’s powers of stop and search across the country in a bid to tackle the wave of violent, particularly knife-related, crime sweeping the UK.
Writing in an article for the Mail on Sunday, Mr Johnson announced that a pilot scheme which provides police with greater powers to search people for knives would be rolled out nationwide.
“We have knife-related homicides running at their highest level since 1946. We have seen a 34 percent increase in stabbings of young people in the past five years, an 82 percent rise in knife crime in that time, and in the past few days we have seen a brave police officer endure a frenzied attack in East London by a man armed with a foot-long machete,” he wrote.
“That is why I am announcing today that in all 43 police authorities in England and Wales, we are making clear that the police can and should make use of their stop-and-search powers,” he added, with 8,000 additional police officers being able to deploy stop and search powers without a senior officer needing to give the go-ahead.
Stop and search was scaled back by then-Home Secretary Theresa May in 2014 after pressure from left-wing activists who claimed the tactic was disproportionately used on young, black men.
My job is to make your streets safer. 20,000 new police, powers for stop and search – and 10,000 new prison places. pic.twitter.com/nYlnz3WBrH
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) August 11, 2019
Mr Johnson has spoken repeatedly in the past about stop and search as a means of keeping streets safe, saying during a speech at the Conservative Party conference in 2018: “Don’t you think it’s time we brought back systematic stop and search to end the politically correct nonsense that has endangered the lives of young people in our capital and elsewhere?”
Acknowledging that “left-wing criminologists will object” to his change in policy, Mr Johnson wrote that ultimately, it would save lives, writing: “But I also know that the people who back this intervention most fervently are often the parents of the kids who are so tragically foolish as to go out on the streets equipped with a knife, endangering not only the lives of others but their own.”
Home secretary Priti Patel backed up the prime minister, telling Channel 4 news on Sunday that “Stop and search works. We hear again and again from police that [they] need to be empowered.”
— Ridge on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) August 11, 2019
In addition to the stop and search plans, Mr Johnson has announced other measures such as the introduction of 20,000 more police officers.
Other announcements revealed by The Telegraph state that Johnson’s government is planning to create 10,000 more prison places and also to stop prisoners being released from jail early automatically in a wide-ranging approach to tackling violent and sexual crime.
“I want the criminals to be afraid – not the public,” Mr Johnson wrote, echoing comments by Ms Patel, who said last week that she wanted to reverse the balance of fear so that criminals and potential offenders felt “terror”.
“Stop and search works. We hear again and again from police that [they] need to be empowered.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel has announced stop and search is being extended to all police forces in England and Wales, allowing police to search people without reasonable suspicion. pic.twitter.com/BLOHinsFqT
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) August 11, 2019