Knife crime: Javid in strategy talks with police chiefs

Yousef Makki and Jodie Chesney

Image caption

Yousef Makki and Jodie Chesney, both 17, were killed in separate knife attacks two days apart

Home Secretary Sajid Javid is meeting later with police chiefs from seven forces most affected by violent crime.

It follows a spate of fatal teen stabbings which has prompted a debate about falling police numbers.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick has said there is “obviously” a link between violent crime and falling police numbers.

But Prime Minister Theresa May has insisted there is “no direct correlation”.

Senior officers from the Metropolitan Police, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, West Midlands, South Wales, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire will attend the meeting.

It comes after two 17-year-old were killed in separate stabbings in London and Greater Manchester at the weekend.

Jodie Chesney was killed in an east London park as she played music with friends, and Yousef Ghaleb Makki was stabbed to death in the village of Hale Barns, near Altrincham.

A 17-year-old boy – who cannot be named for legal reasons – has been charged with the murder of Mr Makki, Greater Manchester Police said. A second 17-year-old boy has been charged with assisting an offender and possession of a bladed article.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police said a man had been arrested in Leicester in connection with the murder of Ms Chesney.

In Lancashire, six people have been arrested over a gang attack at a sixth form college. A machete was found near Runshaw College in Leyland, following Monday’s incident.

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Media captionKnife crime victims’ stories from Sheffield: “I don’t want to not have a mum”

Theresa May told a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday that the killings of Ms Chesney and Mr Makki were “absolutely appalling”.

Her official spokesman said the Home Office would co-ordinate an urgent series of ministerial meetings and engagements to accelerate the work government was doing to support local councils and police.

Mrs May said the problem would require “a whole-of-government effort, in conjunction with the police, the wider public sector and local communities”.

Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn criticised the prime minister for saying there was no direct link between the cut in police numbers and the increase in violent crime.

In a video posted on Tuesday, he said young people “shouldn’t pay the price for austerity with their lives”.

Total knife offences in England and Wales

Offences involving a knife or sharp instrument

Police officer numbers in England and Wales have dropped by more than 20,000 since 2010, while levels of violent crime have risen in recent years.

Figures released in February showed the number of fatal stabbings in England and Wales last year – 285 – was the highest since records began in 1946.

Vernon Coaker, a former Home Office minister under Labour, said the government should treat knife crime with the same urgency as terrorism.

Former Met commissioner Lord Hogan-Howe has called for 20,000 officers to be recruited to bring forces in England and Wales back to their 2010 levels, and says ministers have to “get a grip on the crisis”.

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