THE Defence Secretary is ready to send in the army to help tackle the spiralling knife crime crisis.
Met Police chief Cressida Dick earlier said she would not rule out asking troops to help battle the menace on London’s streets.
In reply, the Defence Secretary said the Armed Forces “always stand ready to help any government department”.
He added: “As we look at all of this, obviously our thoughts and prayers are with those family and friends of those who have lost someone.
“I know that the Home Secretary is looking very closely at how he can ensure that everything is done to tackle this problem at the moment.”
‘CALL IN ARMY’
Experts said the military would be most likely be used in support roles to help overstretched police facing a surge in knife attacks.
Around 20,000 police officers have lost their jobs since David Cameron’s Coalition launched its austerity programme in 2010.
The Government is coming under increasing attack for its failures to address the surge in violent crime. And on Tuesday:
- LONDON Mayor Sadiq Khan accused Theresa May of “crying crocodile tears” as he demanded the Government find more money for the Met.
- FORMER Chief Crown Prosecutor for the North-West Nazir Afzal said the Government was turning its back on Britain’s youth.
- HOME Secretary Sajid Javid sparked a Cabinet row by demanding the PM sign off new stop and search powers and find emergency funds.
Ex-Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon first raised the possibility of sending in the Army on Monday night.
When Ms Dick was challenged on the matter during an LBC Radio interview on Tuesday, she said she found it “hard to imagine” asking for soldiers to be deployed on the streets.
But she added some military staff could perform support roles. She said: “I don’t exclude it, I really don’t.
“I think we all need to work together on this and if there are things that the military would offer for us then of course I would think about it.
“Not to carry out policing functions but other supplementary functions.”
Home Secretary Sajid Javid will chair of meeting of police chiefs on Wednesday – including chief constables from areas most affected by knife crime.
Knife crime is a national emergency and we need the army on the streets with officers now
By Peter Bleksley, former detective and Hunted star
I’ve been stabbed in the neck, I’ve stared down the barrel of a gun a few times, each time by people who thought a weapon made them safer. They could not have been more wrong.
Britain’s streets are awash with knives, landing us in the middle of a national emergency, with a tide of teenage blood that needs to be stemmed – and this means mobilising the army now.
Theresa May has denied there is a link between knife crime and fewer officers on Britain’s streets – but Cressida Dick, the Met Police Commissioner, said this morning that she is recruiting 3,000 additional officers. Clearly, this is an admission that numbers do matter.
You cannot shed 20,000 offices from Britain’s streets and not expect there to be a problem.
Theresa May is daft, deluded and dangerous if she thinks otherwise.
She is fooling herself if she thinks you make cut after cut and expect there not to be consequences.
She was birth mother of these police cuts in 2010 and now she does not have the courage to look herself in the mirror.
How much more teenage blood must be spilled before the Prime Minister stands up and says this is enough?
Bring in the army
As a former undercover cop and drugs officer with Scotland Yard from 1985 to 1999, I’ve seen London and other major cities are really suffering from young people taking weapons out onto the street and using them.
We need to reinstate these officers. But of course to recruit and train them takes time and money and what we need right now is boots on the ground.
We should mobilise the army. This could be a reality in the next 12 hours.
They can patrol alongside the police. Pair up one cop with one soldier.
They’re disciplined, they know all about radio communications, some have peacekeeping experience and they’re very good at saying “I’ve got your back”.
This would enable more people to carry out necessary stop and search checks and offer a greater uniformed presence on the streets.
When I was a young uniformed cop, youngsters lived in fear of turning a corner and bumping into me – because if they did they would be asked they’re going, where they’ve been and to turn out your pockets.
We would strip search them essentially but we didn’t walk up and randomly search people. We went to where the crime hot-spots were.
We went to the troublesome estates and to where reports of crime had come from.
We also relied heavily on what were then called ‘home beat’ officers, which are now called neighbourhood policing teams.
If things weren’t getting done and weren’t improving, it would be those home beat officers who were responsible and who would be upset if a crime was committed on their patch.
Stain on our nation
Sajid Javid shouldn’t be waiting until tomorrow to meet with police chiefs, he should be meeting army generals today.
In the days after the 7/7 bombings, London was awash with plain clothes army officers. Like then, we are in unprecedented times. It’s as bad as I’ve known it.
I’m a father of teenagers and am saddened, shocked and appalled at the deaths of the two 17-year-olds over the weekend. It’s an unimaginable loss and and I’m regularly in contact with heartbroken parents whose children have been murdered on our streets.
You bring a child into the world, who you adore, and the natural order of things should be they bury you, not you bury them.
It’s a stain on our nation and it feels like no one is safe.
If it wasn’t for the brilliance of surgeons and medical professionals we’d have even more teenagers lying on a slab.
Punishment should be severe
The knife crime epidemic goes on against a backdrop of a war on illegal drugs. But the consequences for carrying a weapon should be severe: punishment, education and a form of rehabilitation.
The punishment must fit the potential consequences of the crime, not necessarily the crime itself.
If you are found in possession a knife, you should be punished as a potential murderer.
Punishment without rehabilitation is absolutely pointless; sending a young person to prison for drug dealing without rehabilitation is a waste of time and money.
We must give hope to people who have lived within gangs – hope that they can aspire to own a house of their own, a decent car on the driveway and job that will pay for that. They can pave a better way.
If we don’t, all we are creating is mincing machine, where we stick them in at one end and they come out worse the other.