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Rudd denies seeing Home Office research linking violence surge with police cuts

The Home Secretary insisted ‘you cannot arrest your way out’ of the problem.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has said she has not seen analysis prepared by her own department that says cuts to police numbers have “likely contributed” to a rise in serious violent crime.

The Conservative Cabinet minister insisted she will do “whatever it takes” to make Britain’s streets safe as she launches a blitz on violent crime.

But she denied seeing Home Office research that suggested offenders may have been “encouraged” by the lack of police resources and fall in charge rates.

Ms Rudd also admitted she had not met with any of the families of the victims of a violent crime wave in London this year.

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She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “If you listen to the serious senior policing comments, like from Cressida Dick, they will say that this is a complex crime and you cannot arrest your way out of this.”

The Home Secretary is facing a fresh row over police staffing levels as she unveils the Government’s blueprint for making Britain’s streets safe.

A document obtained by the Guardian said resources dedicated to serious violence “have come under pressure and charge rates have dropped”, adding: “This may have encouraged offenders.”

It was “unlikely to be the factor that triggered the shift in serious violence, but may be an underlying driver that has allowed the rise to continue”.

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Home Secretary Amber Rudd hosting a round table of civic leaders including Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick and mayor Sadiq Khan (John Stillwell/PA)

A highlighted box summarises the point: “Not the main driver but has likely contributed.”

The document said that it was unlikely that “lack of deterrence” was the catalyst for the rise in serious violence and noted that “forces with the biggest falls in police numbers are not seeing the biggest rises in serious violence”.

Ms Rudd told Today: “I haven’t seen this document.

“There are a lot of documents that go round the Home Office. We do a lot of work in this area.

“Of course violent crime is a priority. I think that you do a disservice to the communities and the families by making this a political tit-for-tat about police numbers.”

Ms Rudd said police forces with the biggest falls in numbers had not seen the biggest rise in crime.

“It’s up to different police and crime commissioners to make their decisions about how the money is spent,” she added.

As of September there were 121,929 officers across the 43 territorial forces in England and Wales – a fall of nearly 20,000 compared to a decade earlier.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said: “The Government’s own analysis seems to suggest that cuts to police officer numbers has had an effect in encouraging violent offences.

“If true this blows apart the Tories’ repeated claims that their cuts have had no effect.”

The furore threatened to overshadow the launch of the Government’s long awaited strategy for tackling violent crime.

Work on the wide-ranging package of measures started last year but it has been finalised against a backdrop of mounting calls for action following a deadly wave of violence in London.

The strategy – underpinned by £40 million of Home Office funding and a new Offensive Weapons Bill – will:

– Call on social media companies to do more to rid the web of violent gang content

– Set out tough restrictions on online sales of knives following concerns that age verification checks can be sidestepped

– Make it a criminal offence to possess corrosive substances in a public place

– Reveal plans to consult on extending stop and search powers so police can use the tactics to seize acid from suspects carrying it without good reason

– Make it illegal to possess certain weapons, including zombie knives and knuckle-dusters, in private

The strategy identifies the changing drugs market as a key driver of the violence affecting communities.

Ministers are also stepping up efforts to tackle the “county lines” drug distribution model where city gangs branch out into rural or coastal towns, using children and vulnerable adults as couriers to move heroin and crack cocaine between the new market and their urban hub.

The Home Secretary will also emphasise the importance of intervening earlier to stop youngsters being drawn into a cycle of violence.

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