British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the recruitment of 20,000 new police officers will start within weeks as the new premier promises a crackdown on violent crime gripping London and the rest of the country.
Johnson, who formally took office on Wednesday, has repeatedly stressed his intention to ramp up the numbers of police officers, which has declined by about 20,000 since the Conservatives gained power in 2010.
In both his first speech as Prime Minister on the steps on Downing Street on Wednesday and to the Parliament on Thursday, the new premier said he will put thousands more officers on the streets.
“People want to see more officers in their neighborhoods, protecting the public and cutting crime.”
— Boris Johnson
“People want to see more officers in their neighborhoods, protecting the public and cutting crime,” Johnson said Friday.
The recruitment drive also appears to be a swipe at London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who Johnson, his predecessor in the capital, has repeatedly criticized for allowing knife crime to get out of control.
“It is tragic that so many young lives are again being lost on the pavements of our capital,” Johnson wrote in a Telegraph column last year. “But for my money there is a further outrage – and that is the abject failure of the mayor of London either to grip the problem, or even to take responsibility.”
He added: “[Sadiq Khan] blames everyone but himself, when it is his paramount duty to keep Londoners safe.”
This year there have been at least 33 fatal stabbings in London, while last year, knife crime took the lives of 135 people.
The capital also saw 3,301 knife crime offenses in 2017/18. This is 42 percent higher than in the year ending March 2011.
Johnson brought up his record as the mayor during his pitch to Conservative voters last month, saying his policing policies led to a decline in knife crime.
“It was terrible,” he said. “We had kids losing their lives in our city at a rate of 28-30 a year, teenagers were being stabbed to death in London. We had to take some very tough decisions.”
He added: “I believe, frankly, there is nothing kinder or more loving that you can do if you see a young kid coming down the street who may be carrying a knife, than to ask him to turn out, or her, almost invariably him, to turn out his pockets and produce that knife.
“That is not discriminatory, that is a kind, compassionate, loving thing to do. And it worked. We ended up, as I said just now, we ended up cutting serious youth violence by I think 32 percent. Knife crime went down, the murder rate went down.”