SAJID JAVID launched an astonishing attack on Theresa May over knife crime the Government plunged into crisis over the blood-letting on Britain’s streets.
The Home Secretary sparked a bitter Cabinet dust-up by demanding more cash for cops- and for the PM to back his call to make it easier for police to use stop and search powers on suspect thugs.
Stunned Cabinet Ministers watched as he then demanded the PM sign off his proposals by the end of the day in a huge challenge to her authority.
One told The Sun: “He told her ‘I’ve sent you some proposals and I need you to sign them off today.’
“There was a slight testiness from the PM.”
The incredible exchange came after Theresa May was held personally responsible for the record level of stabbings by Met Commissioner Cressida Dick.
Just 24 hours after the PM dismissed talk of a link between police cuts and rising crime, Ms Dick said it was clear to “everybody” that “there is some link between violent crime on the streets and police numbers”.
Separately, London Mayor Sadiq Khan tore into the Government over funding as he returned from a controversial mini-break – and visited a youth centre in Croydon.
The Labour Mayor accused Theresa May and Sajid Javid of “crying crocodile tears” over the knife crime crisis and said the Home Office had ignored his calls for more funding for two years.
He said: “We are doing our best to fill this hole by ourselves now we can’t do it.”
‘ACCELERATE THE WORK THE GOVERNMENT IS DOING’
In a marked change of tone from Monday, the PM’s official spokesman admitted that resources were part of the problem facing Britain’s police forces.
He said: “The point the PM was making yesterday was this is a complex area.”
But the chaos threatens to engulf Theresa May just as she battles to save her Brexit deal before a critical vote in the Commons next Tuesday (March 12).
Senior Tories said they were dismayed that Labour were now attacking the party on law and order following the murder of teenagers Jodie Chesney and
Yousef Makki in two separate stabbings over the weekend.
The Prime Minister ordered the Home Office to coordinate a series of Cabinet-level Ministerial meetings on knife crime to “accelerate the work the Government is doing” in support of councils and the police.
Separately Chancellor Philip Hammond asked the Home Secretary if the police working on “historical cases” could be moved into front line work to help tackle the knife crime wave.
STOP AND SEARCH
As Home Secretary, Theresa May waged a running battle with police chiefs by pushing ahead with drastic cuts.
And in 2014, she announced a “comprehensive reform” of stop and search amid claims that 250,000 street searches were carried out illegally each year.
Allies insisted she had not changed the law around the spot checks.
But Sajid Javid wants her to back his call for police to have greater freedom to stop and search knife suspects.
Sources close to the Home Secretary – a Tory leadership contender – said he believes the police are now too afraid to use the tactic and are swamped by bureaucracy.
One said: “He’s made it clear he’s been after more money for a long time. Unfortunately the people we need to convince are the Treasury. And they keep saying ‘No’.”
Mr Javid is meeting with the nation’s top chief constables, the National Crime Agency and National Police College for crisis talks.
We have a justice secretary who is saying we need to scrap shorter sentences because the prisons are full. My argument is build more prisons – we need to have a consequence
John Apter, chair of the Police Federation
The officers are drawn from the 7 police forces with the highest knife crime – the Met, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, the West Midlands, South Wales, West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire.
Official figures last month revealed fatal stabbings soared to the highest level on record amid a surge in violent crime.
There were 285 killings by a knife or sharp instrument in 2017-2018.
And Home Office analysis showed the number of 16 to 24 year-olds killed by knives rose by nearly 50 per cent in 2017-2018.
The chair of the Police Federation John Apter called for more prisons to be built to combat the knife crime epidemic.
He pointed out that despite the tough talk from Government, Justice Secretary David Gauke had proposed that people sentenced to jail terms of six months or less should be spared prison.
Mr Apter said: “Despite the rhetoric you hear from politicians about being tough on those who carry knives, two-thirds of those who are convicted don’t face prison.
“We have a justice secretary who is saying we need to scrap shorter sentences because the prisons are full. My argument is build more prisons – we need to have a consequence.”
Nazir Afzal, a former chief crown prosecutor for the north-west of England, told The Sun he feared the crisis will only get worse.
And he said that as well as more policing, the Government had to explore the explosion in social media use by teens – as youngsters had “lost their social skills – their ability to talk to each other”.
He said: “The Prime Minister, Government, civic leaders just give the impression that they have little interest in what our young people are going through. I just don’t think people understand the crisis we are facing.”
The Sun Says
THERE is no point in Theresa May denying it. We need more cops.
It’s not the only cause of soaring knife crime. But it’s a big one. More stop-and-search and less lenient judges will help.
But police need more manpower both to patrol the streets and take down drug gangs — with charities given more resources to stop kids joining them.
Act, PM. Don’t quibble over historic data.