Jeremy Corbyn had plenty of authoritative people to quote when attacking the government’s record on knife crime at PMQs today. Theresa May insisted on Monday that there was “no direct correlation between certain crimes and police numbers” – and the austerity she has imposed can therefore not be held responsible for the recent spike in knife crime – but evidence has been stacking up against that claim. “Of course there is some link between violent crime on the streets and police numbers,” said Met Police commissioner Cressida Dick. “We need much stronger leadership from government and there needs to be more funding,” said Sarah Thornton, head of the National Police Chiefs’ Council. “I am aghast at what the Prime Minister had to say about police numbers – that there is no correlation between the number of police and the amount of crime. Of course there is,” said Nazir Afzal, the former chief prosecutor of Greater Manchester whose 17-year-old relative was recently stabbed to death in Birmingham.Labour has its own difficulties on how best to tackle knife crime. Reacting to the news of a fatal stabbing in Altrincham, Labour’s Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham called for more stop and search powers. But many in the party have serious concerns over its use – including Home Secretary Diane Abbott, who said last year: “Stop and search is already too easily done on the basis of racial profiling. There is no evidence that random stops reduces violent crime.”Sajid Javid and Amber Rudd looking glum at PMQsThese divisions weren’t exploited by Theresa May this afternoon, as she struggled to respond to the Labour leader’s probing questions. It is undeniable that Tory policies have had a worsening effect on crime levels – whether we’re talking about police numbers, council funding, mental health services, schools or the probation service – and yet the PM does deny it. Her frontbenchers, however, such as Sajid Javid who emphasised resources as he offered a different reaction to the crisis earlier in the week, did not look happy. There are many Tory MPs who could easily have found themselves nodding along to Corbyn’s attacks on this issue. Today they had to make do with looking glum.Tags:PMQs /Theresa May /Jeremy Corbyn /knife crime /police cuts /
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