Conservatives promise to give police “greater” stop and search powers
Ahead of the December 12 general election, prime minister Boris Johnson has promised that the police will be provided with “greater freedoms” to use stop and search tactics against known knife carriers.
Speaking in Manchester, Johnson said he wanted to “come down hard” on knife crime, adding that extending stop and search powers “will deter young people who have been convicted of carrying from getting back involved in that kind of life again”.
Police currently reserve the right to stop and search individuals if they suspect that they may commit a violent offence.
Home secretary Priti Patel said back in August that stop and search rights “empower” the UK police force and are effective in tackling knife crime, however, this has been contested by Labour shadow home secretary, Dianne Abbott.
In response to Johnson’s pledge, Abbott said: "Tinkering with police powers cannot disguise Tory failure for almost a decade. Johnson supported Tory cuts to the police and has no plans to restore the frontline officers that successive Tory governments have axed - just as he never did make good on his promise to recruit 'thousands of extra police' as London Mayor.”
Abbott added that Conservative cuts to youth services and drug prevention have taken their toll on rising crime rates, alongside increased numbers of school exclusions, adding that the Tories do not “intend to do anything” about these issues.
However during his speech in Manchester, Johnson did bring up an earlier Conservative promise of £35 million of investment into violent crime reduction units next year, a method which has been in place in Scotland since 2005 and has proven effective in reducing knife crime.
The prime minister also outlined his intentions to hasten the acts of charging and prosecuting knife carriers, ensuring that “the threat of being caught is always an effective deterrent” to possible offenders.
Anyone carrying a knife unlawfully would be arrested and charged within 24 hours, with a court hearing taking place within a week.
The current average time from the committing of a knife offence to a criminal charge is 40 days.