Police need cash to tackle rise in knife crime, says former Met anti-terror chief

A former head of counter-terrorism policing has urged the Government to inject more resources into the “bedrock” of neighbourhood policing.

Sir Mark Rowley, who retired from Scotland Yard in March, said it was right to cut police funding during the austerity drive as crime rates were falling, but said forces now needed extra cash to combat rising threats such as knife and gun offences .

He spoke out as he launched a company to take on “failed” government contractors while bringing cutting-edge technology to frontline policing.

Sir Mark, 53, said scandals surrounding companies such as Carillion, Capita and G4S, showed the system of awarding public contracts was broken. He will head the tech enterprise called Panopticon, backed by the venture capital firm Public and US tech company Scram Systems, which is aiming to use technology to help fight crime.

One planned scheme would use mobile phone technology and surveillance systems to launch small, inexpensive tags for offenders serving sentences in the community. Sir Mark said: “A lot of these big companies have shown themselves to be more interested in the bottom line than the frontline. The Government’s mistake has been in mistaking size for credibility. Some procurement processes have ruled out smaller players when they are doing amazing innovation. We want to bring technology and expertise to bear in a way that helps the frontline.”

Sir Mark oversaw the response to all five terror attacks in Britain last year. He said that the Government should invest more in beat bobbies, who are key to building relationships with communities and therefore tackling serious crime. “We must not forget that bedrock of neighbourhood policing,” he said. “If that does not benefit from significant investment it is at risk of crumbling to a position that we may regret in the long term.

“The more complex communities are the more important it is for police to have the trust of all elements of society. You only build that trust if you have a close relationship and you only build that with people on the beat. For example, information from communities is critical to spotting some of the volatile individuals who rapidly accelerate from being a disenfranchised, to someone who has a terrorist motivation.”

He said the same applied to preventing people from joining gangs

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