The former head of the Metropolitan Police says 20,000 more officers are needed on the streets to tackle Britain’s knife crime.
It comes after the deaths of two teenagers in separate knife attacks in London and Greater Manchester at the weekend.
Former Met Police commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe said the government’s efforts to increase the number of police officers will not go far enough.
Policing minister Nick Hurd says an extra £460 million is being invested in the police system this year which will be used to recruit at least 2,500 more officers.
But Lord Hogan-Howe, who has investigated the knife crime issue for Channel 4’s Dispatches, told ITV’s Good Morning Britain that almost ten times that number are needed.
He said: “I asked Nick Hurd, the police minister, well how many more cops are we going to get for the extra money they are putting in?
“To be fair, the government are putting more money now into policing. He said about two-and-a-half thousand cops. That’s too few.
“And the second question is, when are they going to be here?
“Even if you press the button today and, I would argue, get the 20,000 back, you’re not going to get them tomorrow.
“You’ve got to recruit them, you’ve got to train them. You’ve got loads of things to do.”
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As well as 20,000 more police officers, Lord Hogan-Howe also called for increased interception of Class A drugs, improving technology and building trust in local communities as part of urgent measures to reduce knife crime.
An investigation by Dispatches found that the number of children and young people linked to murders and manslaughters using knives has risen by more than 75% over three years.
The Channel 4 programme found the number of police recorded offenders aged under 18 committing homicides using a knife or sharp instrument rose by 77% from 26 to 46 from 2016 to 2018.
The analysis was based on Freedom of Information request responses from 29 out of 43 police forces about the age of offenders recorded as carrying out knife and sharp instrument offences.
It also found that during this period the number of police recorded offenders aged under 18 committing rape and sexual assault with a knife rose from 24 to 33 and robbery with a knife increased from 656 to 999.
The programme said a police recorded offender is where there is an offender linked to the crime resulting in an arrest, caution or community outcome.
Dispatches also found there has been a 93% rise in the number of children aged 16 and under being treated for stab wounds in England.
An analysis of NHS Digital data by the programme found the number of children aged 16 and under being treated for assaults by sharp objects rose from 180 to 347 between 2012-13 and 2017-18.
It said that 76 people were reportedly stabbed to death in the capital out of 306 across the UK as a whole last year, including 23 children.
The programme, Britain’s Knife Crisis: Young, Armed And Dangerous, is broadcast at 8pm on Monday.
Lord Hogan-Howe called for the appointment of a new “knife crime tsar” to “get a grip on the crisis”.
He said: “It’s important to focus attention on the exploitation of children in socially deprived areas.
“We need to increase police numbers in these areas and reduce the drug supply into the UK and its distribution including by county lines.
“Something law enforcement and government have failed to do. I just don’t see anybody getting a grip of this crisis. The government needs to appoint somebody who is going to lead it day after day.
“Call it a ‘knife crime tsar’ if you like, but somebody who is going to make sure we get knives off the street and save lives.”
Mr Hurd added: “This is a massive challenge for our policing system and therefore a big priority for me as policing minister to make sure that our police system has the resources to invest in upgrading our technology.
“One of the big challenges underpinning is the reality that for too many young people, particularly in our big cities, carrying a knife now feels normal.”
Home Office minister Victoria Atkins defended government efforts to tackle knife crime, saying: “It may be that we are not talking about it in the press enough, but we are working on this day in and day out.”
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “On Friday I was at a briefing with the Metropolitan Police and police forces from across the country sharing what they are going to do in a week of national action on tackling knife crime. The last week we had on this scale, we had 9,000 knives taken off the streets of the country and more than 1,000 arrests.
“We have also set up the national co-ordination centre to tackle county lines, which is part of the problem with serious violence, and already in the few months that has been operating that has secured more than 1,000 arrests and safeguarded more than 1,000 vulnerable people.”