Home Secretary Sajid Javid has chaired a meeting with police leaders from across the country to discuss what more can be done to tackle serious violence. Chief constables from seven forces, which have seen the highest levels of serious violence, met alongside Sara Thornton (chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council), Lynne Owens (director general of the National Crime Agency) and Metropolitan Police Service Commissioner Cressida Dick.
The Home Secretary was swift to praise what he described as the “incredible” work forces are doing in the fight against knife crime and the ongoing commitment of their officers. Javid also discussed the action the Government is taking through its Serious Violence Strategy. The Government’s approach is endorsed by senior officers.
The meeting also heard the short-term operational actions being taken by police forces at both a regional and national level and discussed the latest crime statistics. Officers also focused on the issues of police resourcing and the use of Stop and Search.
“I’m deeply concerned by the rise in serious violence brought into focus by the murders in London and Manchester,” explained the Home Secretary. “We are working with the police and other partners and agree that this issue requires action on many fronts. I’m listening to the police officers and the purpose of this meeting was to discuss what more can be done, but it’s not just about law enforcement. That’s a huge part, but it’s also about early intervention and how we stop people turning to crime. That’s about working across Government and public bodies.”
At the end of the meeting all of the attendees agreed to hold such gatherings on a more regular basis going forward.
The meeting builds on work of the aforementioned Serious Violence Strategy which sets out the importance of a multi-agency approach towards tackling serious violence and involves combining strong law enforcement with early intervention. Building on this, in October last year the Home Secretary announced further measures including a new £200 million Youth Endowment Fund, an independent review of drug misuse and a consultation on a new legal duty to underpin a multi-agency preventative or ‘public health’ approach towards tackling serious violence.
In addition, in 2019 to 2020, total police funding will increase by up to £970 million including the council tax precept. This represents the biggest increase since 2010. This will enable the police service to continue recruiting and fill crucial capability gaps in detective roles, for example.
At the last meeting held on 28 November, the group discussed the challenges in tackling serious violence and provided insights on key issues being faced regionally. Attendees at the latest meeting were as follows:
Sajid Javid (Home Secretary), Victoria Atkins (Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability), Julia Kinniburgh (director general, Serious and Organised Crime Group), Dan Greaves (crime director at the Home Office), Nick Hunt (head of the Serious Violence Unit at the Home Office), Cressida Dick CBE QPM (Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service), Ade Adelekan (chief superintendent, Metropolitan Police Service), Andy Cooke QPM (chief constable, Merseyside Police), David Thompson QPM (chief constable, West Midlands Police), Rob Potts (assistant chief constable, Greater Manchester Police), Jeremy Vaughan (assistant chief constable, South Wales Police), Tim Forber (assistant chief constable, South Yorkshire Police), John Robins (temporary chief constable, West Yorkshire Police), Sara Thornton CBE QPM (chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council), Martin Hewitt (assistant commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service and who’ll be replacing Sara Thornton as chair of the NPCC in April), Jacqueline Sebire (assistant chief constable, Bedfordshire Police), Lynne Owens (director general, National Crime Agency), Bernie O’Reilly (deputy chief constable attending on behalf of Mike Cunningham, CEO at the College of Policing) and Mike Barton QPM (chief constable, Durham Constabulary and the NPCC’s lead on crime issues).
Comment from the NPCC
Lynne Owens said: “The recent tragic loss of more young lives has caused devastation and highlights the need to urgently tackle the violence epidemic we’re seeing. It’s 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’re 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.”
The NPCC states that policing tactics include:
*Targeted patrols in crime ‘hot spots’, based on the latest information, tasked on a daily basis to high harm locations
*Increased use of Stop and Search using body-worn cameras to improve accountability
*Increasing the use of Section 60 powers for widespread Stop and Search in a specific area where there’s evidence that serious violence has taken place or may take place
*Disrupting gangs and crime groups that drive violence
*Increasing the focus on County Lines drug dealing (more than 650 children and young people having been protected in a recent week-long operation against County Lines)
Police chiefs have said the solutions are much wider than policing. Immediate action is needed and police chiefs have called for:
Violent crime to be treated as a national emergency This requires emergency funding which would see the police increase operational activity in affected areas. Current tactics work, but the challenge is having enough officers to use them. Emergency money could be used to pay for officer overtime and facilitate mutual aid where officers are moved around the country where the problems are greatest
Further long-term funding Police budgets are growing, with an extra £970 million more than the previous year. However, police chiefs say that this is not enough and that continued long-term funding is needed
All of Government to play its part Chief constables are very concerned about the levels of school exclusions, with around 40 permanent exclusions per day in 2016-2017, many children attending pupil referral units for just one hour a week and unchallenged truancy from schools. These children are at a high risk of becoming involved in violent crime, either as perpetrators or victims