A South Yorkshire police chief who attended a top level knife crime summit organised by the government said he is ‘encouraged’ at the Home Secretary’s ‘understanding of the issues’.
Assistant Chief Constable Tim Forber was one of seven senior police officers from across the country who met Home Secretary Sajid Javid yesterday to discuss growing concerns about knife crime, with the issue described this week as a ‘national emergency’.
COURT: Serving police officer due in court accused of dangerous driving in Sheffield
There were eight fatal stabbings in South Yorkshire last year, although locally knife crime is down by 12 per cent.
The fatal stabbings of two teenagers last weekend in Greater Manchester and London have sparked a heated debate over police officer numbers in England and Wales, which have dropped by more than 20,000 since 2010.
Britain's most senior police officer, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick insists there is ‘obviously’ a connection between reductions in officer numbers and street violence, but Prime Minister Theresa May disagrees.
Speaking after yesterday’s meeting, ACC Forber said: "I am encouraged by the Home Secretary's understanding of the issues and look forward to working constructively with the Home Office on this difficult and complex issue."
David Thompson, Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, said senior officers had a ‘positive’ meeting with the Home Secretary in London.
He tweeted that the discussion covered how police can deliver the ‘serious violence strategy’.
"Police suppression activity very much on the agenda as well as long term need," he added.
Lynne Owens, director general of the National Crime Agency, who also attended the meeting, said the agency was working with police forces to tackle ‘violent street gangs’.
In a statement, she said: "The recent tragic loss of more young lives has caused devastation and highlights the need to urgently tackle the violence epidemic we are seeing.
"It is more important than ever that we have a cohesive response across law enforcement, government, education, health and social services.
"Serious violence has many causes, of which serious and organised crime is one.
"We know that organised criminal networks are a driver for violence and our priority is to disrupt the organised crime groups, in order to eliminate the harm they inflict upon communities.
"We are working with local law enforcement to develop a more detailed intelligence picture and have successfully supported forces on operations to target serious violence, including tackling violent street gangs through our work in the county lines co-ordination centre."