The UK’s Boris Johnson, who became prime minister and leader of the Conservative Party a month ago, has announced an extension of the police’s stop-and-search powers, an end to the automatic release of serious criminals, and a £2.5 billion ($3 billion, €2.68 billion) investment to create 10,000 new prison places.
Writing in the Mail on Sunday newspaper, Johnson said: “We need to come down hard on crime. That means coming down hard on criminals.”
The measures will see an additional 8,000 police officers in England and Wales having stop-and-search powers. “We are making clear that the police can and should make use of their stop-and-search powers,” he wrote.Watch video04:39
Surge in knife crime in Britain
Addressing rise in knife crime
Johnson argued that while stop-and-search powers were controversial, “the people who back this intervention most fervently are often the parents of the kids who are so tragically foolish as to go out on the streets equipped with a knife — endangering not only the lives of others but their own.”
Meanwhile, the Sunday Telegraph reported that Johnson also intends to introduce tougher sentences for violent criminals and end the practice of releasing a criminal who is judged not to be dangerous after they have served half their sentence.
Great Britain: Victims of Youth Violence
The UK has seen a rise in knife crime this year, and Johnson has called for tougher sentencing for those carrying knives as well as for “serious sexual and violent offenders.”
Johnson has also moved to boost the UK’s struggling police force, which has seen a steady decline in officer numbers under the Conservative government over the last ten years. According to UK government figures, the number of police officers has dropped from over 140,000 in 2009 to just over 120,000 last year.
The new prime minister has pledged to recruit some 20,000 new officers.
‘I want the criminals to be afraid – not the public.’