Stop and search powers will bring knife thugs before court in days, vows Boris Johnson

JOE MURPHY
AP

Stronger stop and search powers will be introduced in a blitz on knife crime, Boris Johnson told the Evening Standard today.

New court orders will empower officers to target known carriers of weapons, making it easier for them to stop those considered the greatest danger to society, he revealed.

It is part of a triple-pronged crackdown on the wave of knife crime that has seen 22 teenagers stabbed to death in London among 121 murders so far this year.

Pledging to “come down hard on knife crime in London”, the Prime Minister said he will draw on his experience as mayor.

“I know the importance of successfully fighting crime in this city and that’s exactly what a Conservative government will continue to do,” he said.

Measures for the Tory manifesto, which is expected to be published at the end of this week, include:

  • Three-times-faster charging and prosecution times of knife offenders to act as a better deterrent. Anyone caught with a knife will be arrested, charged within 24 hours and in court within a week.
  • A new form of court order called a Serious Violence Reduction Order allowing police to search habitual knife carriers in the street without requiring suspicion, a proposal backed by former Met boss Lord Hogan-Howe. It could be used against acid and guns, as well as blades.

All offenders who receive a community order, suspended sentence or worse would receive such an order, meaning that from the moment they leave court or prison they will know they face a greater chance of being caught again and sent to jail.

Another £35 million towards Violence Reduction Units, the multi-agency teams including police and social workers who are at the heart of the successful “social care” model for tackling knife and gang crime. Cash will go to London, Manchester, Hampshire and other hotspots to support data-sharing and early intervention.

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland announced plans to jail child murderers for the rest of their lives without parole (Sky News)

“Over my time as Mayor of London, neighbourhood crime was cut by 20 per cent and 11,000 knives were taken off our streets within three years and that’s because we backed our brave police officers,” Mr Johnson told the Standard.

“Increased powers to stop and search has had a transformative effect in the past year so we will extend those powers further to help the police catch more criminals carrying weapons. We will also speed up prosecutions so that the threat of being caught is always an effective deterrent.”

The Government has committed to an extra 20,000 police officers, including some 1,413 for London, following pressure to reverse reductions in police numbers, which Labour blames for recent crime rises.

Today’s move comes after Justice Secretary Robert Buckland announced plans to jail child murderers for the rest of their lives without parole except in “exceptional” circumstances.

A prison education service for England and Wales will also aim to improve work-based training and education standards for inmates across the system.

Meanwhile, the two main party leaders were getting ready this afternoon for the first head-to-head TV election debate .

Mr Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn will face off for a one-hour encounter on ITV, half of which will be devoted to Brexit and the rest to other issues.

Among new promises on the campaign trail, Labour said it would dedicate 82 police officers to tackling fox hunting, hare coursing and other wildlife crimes, at a cost of £4.5 million.