Thames Valley Police Federation chairman Craig O'Leary has hit out at Theresa May's claims that there is no link between falling police numbers and rising crime.
The prime minister has sparked a backlash over the government’s handling of rising knife crime after she insisted there was “no direct correlation between certain crimes and police numbers” amid new evidence of a significant rise in teens using knives.
“The Prime Minister is living in cloud cuckoo land,” said Craig.
“To suggest there is no link between police numbers and violent crime is nonsense. We simply don’t have the police numbers to proactively patrol any more and to deter these criminals from carrying knives and weapons. The numbers clearly back this up.
“Instead of taking responsibility for the cuts she oversaw as Home Secretary – and working with policing to try and fix the mess her Government has created - Theresa May now stands there denying history.
“She looks and sounds ludicrous. And the public won’t buy it.”
A Freedom of Information Act revealed a 53% rise in the number of teens using knives for robberies, murders and rapes or sexual assaults between 2016 and 2018. The number of children under 16 being treated for blade wounds almost doubled in the last five years, NHS data has shown.
Speaking during a visit to Salisbury on the anniversary of the novichok attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal, May said: “If you look at the figures, you’ll see there’s no correlation between certain crimes and police numbers."
However, figures show there has been an acute decline in police numbers since 2010.
In 2010, there were 143,734 police officers in England and Wales.
There are now 122,395.
This marks a decrease of 21,339.
In 2010 Thames Valley Police had 4,434 police officers. There are now 4,045. That's 389 fewer.
According to Government statistics there’s been a 12% increase in police recorded offences involving a knife or sharp instrument in the past year - to 39,332 offences.
It’s at the highest level since comparable data began to be collected in April 2010.
Latest Home Office figures show that in the year ending March 2018, there were 279,598 stops and searches conducted by police officers in England and Wales.
This was a fall of 8% compared with the previous year and continuing the downward trend since the peak in the year ending March 2011 when there 1,229,324 stop and searches.
Craig added: “Theresa May is burying her head in the sand. The Police Federation sadly predicted this and was accused of ‘crying wolf’ when we highlighted our concerns. Those concerns have become a reality but still the Prime Minister fails to accept the harsh truth.
“Policing needs investment – and it’s high time the Government listened to professionals on this.”