Home secretary Amber Rudd went on the Radio 4 Today programme this morning to talk about the rise in violent crime. Unfortunately, she had apparently forgotten to read research by her own department before she opened her mouth.

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Rudd has insisted that the recent rise in violent crime is not connected to the drop in police numbers in recent years. Writing in the Sunday Telegraph on 8 April, she said:

“As we confront this argument I know that the same arguments and criticisms will emerge…one is the contention that there are not enough officers on the streets to tackle this threat. The evidence does not support this.”

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She continued to make this point in her interview [2:10:00] on the Today programme on 9 April, and told presenter Martha Kearney [2:13:03] that it’s not all about police numbers. Kearney replied [2:13:22]:

“It may not all be about police numbers but Home Office research leaked today suggests that it certainly does play a part.”

Rudd responded [2:13:29]:

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“Well, I haven’t seen this document.”

Kearney, unable to keep the credulity out of her voice, said [2:13:33]:

“You’re launching a serious violent crime strategy today and you haven’t seen Home Office research into this very area?”

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To which Rudd can only reply [2:13:39]:

“Well, there are a lot of documents that go round the Home Office.”

Had Rudd bothered to read the document herself – a report which she actually appears to admit she commissioned herself later on in the interview [04:32 in the video at the bottom of the article] – she would have found that Home Office research concluded that pressure on police “may have encouraged” violent offenders and “likely contributed” to the rise in violent crime.

Police numbers have dropped significantly since 2012 due to cuts in police budgets. According to the government’s Police Workforce report:

“There were 120,609 officers in the 43 territorial police forces in England and Wales as at 31 March 2017. This is the lowest number of police officers at the end of a financial year since comparable records began in 1996.”

At the same time, there has been a significant increase in knife crime. And whilst there may be many reasons for the increase in knife crime, including changes in recording practices, the Office for National Statistics says:

“it is thought that the main driver has been a genuine rise in knife crime in areas such as London, as this is reflected by other data sources.”

As usual, Twitter was quick to react to Rudd’s incompetence:

Instead of funding the police properly, Rudd’s big idea is to introduce new laws:

Whether there’ll be any police left to enforce them, however, remains to be seen.

You can listen to Rudd’s car crash interview in full below:

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