Cheshire's Police and Crime Commissioner and Chief Constable say cuts to public services are having an impact on the level of violent crime in the county.
David Keane and Darren Martland have spoken out, following comments by Prime Minister Theresa May saying there was “no direct correlation” between cuts to police numbers and the significant rise in knife attacks across the UK.
Both the commissioner and chief constable say that while cuts to police numbers are not wholly responsible for the rise in violent crimes such as knife crime, it is clear that cuts to all public services, including policing, is having an impact on the amount of violent crimes committed in Cheshire.
Police and crime commissioner David Keane said: “Cheshire police has lost 135 officers since 2010 and in addition to this other public services across Cheshire, including local authorities, have been subject to harsh spending cuts from central Government.
“We have got to ask ourselves the question; is there a direct link between the effects of austerity and the increase in violent crimes on our streets.
“I believe that austerity is killing young people throughout our communities. Unless it is stopped, we will continue to see lives unnecessarily cut short. I want the government to act now and provide an emergency cash injection for all police forces before more lives are lost.
Cheshire police has rolled-out an initiative across Cheshire to tackle knife crime. Operation Abolish targets problem areas, working with partners to try and educate people about law around carrying and buying knives, as well carrying-out knife sweeps to clean up local communities. But the chief constable says he wants more resources to reduce knife crime.
CC Darren Martland said: “Whilst Cheshire has one of the lowest rates of knife crime in the country, we have seen an increase in violent offending.
“Public services throughout Cheshire are working with less resources and this has increased demand on policing. We are now expected to do far more, with far less.
"Police officers are often the first port-of-call in situations which may not have needed police intervention in the past. This means there are fewer resources to carry-out preventative work in schools and communities.
“I would welcome more support from the government to help us tackle these issues and allow us to provide more education on the dangers of carrying knives and other dangerous weapons.”