Metropolitan police to reverse Theresa May’s cuts to stop and search

The chief of the the Metropolitan police today announced plans to reverse Theresa May's cuts to stop and searches, following an increase in knife deaths in the capital.

Metropolitan Police commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe said that violence had begun to increase following dramatic reductions in stop and search over recent years. Ten people have died from knife attacks so far this year.

"When you've got kids stabbing each other it's not good so we are increasing it in a reasonable way," he told the London Assembly.

Pushed by Conservative assembly member Tony Arbour on whether the reduction may have "emboldened" criminals to carry knives, he agreed that that this may have happened.

"There is a possibility of that. I acknowledge that," he replied.

He said that police had been overusing stop and search previously, but insisted that the scale of reduction in use backed by the Home Office had "gone too far."

"We did reduce it and during the three years we did that two things have happened. We arrested more people and violence came down. Stabbings came down.

"[However] there was always going to be a point where if [stop and search] had any value at all that would bottom out and there is some evidence that it has bottomed out.

"So… we are going to increase it in a targeted way."

Hogan-Howe said the police had been trying other methods to take knives off the street including one attempt to train sniffer dogs to detect them.

"I've tried to find out if you can get dogs to search for knives but they told me it was impossible. You can do it for guns but not for knives. But we have tried," he said.

Hogan-Howe's announcement on stop and search follows calls by the Conservative favourite to be the next London mayor to reverse cuts to stop and search.

Zac Goldsmith suggested last week that May's decision to reduce stop and search by an "arbitrary figure" had led to an increase in deaths.

"People from the left and the right in the police think we have gone too far and I wonder whether that might be one of the reasons why we're seeing an increase in knife crime," Goldsmith told LBC.

"It is a valuable tool. Any copper is going to tell you it is a valuable tool. I wouldn't want to restrict that tool."

Labour's mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan has previously opposed any increase in stop and search, saying he would do "everything in my power" as mayor to further reduce the number of searches.