Boris Johnson says stop and search is a 'kind and loving way' to get weapons off streets

ITV News Political Correspondent Shehab Khan reports on Boris Johnson's new crime plan

Boris Johnson has defended his plan bring stop and search back into wider usage, saying the powers provide a "kind and loving" way to get dangerous weapons off the streets.

Part of the government's 'Beating Crime Plan' will see a conditions on the use of Section 60 stop and search powers permanently lifted, allowing officers to search someone without reasonable grounds in an area where serious violence is expected.

Campaigners are furious with the plan, which many say will disproportionately impact black and minority ethnic communities - human rights organisation Liberty has said it will "compound discrimination" in the UK.

But the prime minister wants stop and search to be one of many tools police can use to "fight street crime", something he said has risen during the pandemic.

Crime is becoming more common and one shopkeeper says he thinks the police just don't care, ITV News Political Reporter Shehab Khan reports

"I disagree with the opponents of stop and search. Section 60 Stop and Search orders, I think, can play an important part in fighting crime," he told reporters at Surrey Police HQ.

He added: "I think that giving the police the backing that they need in law to stop someone, to search them, to relieve them of a dangerous weapon - I don't think that's strong-arm tactics, I think that's a kind and a loving thing to do.

"The people who often support stop and search most passionately are the parents of the kids who are likely themselves to be the victims of knife crime."

Another deterrent of anti-social behaviour will see perpetrators sentenced to community service, with the public able to identify those who have been punished.

He said: "If you are guilty of anti-social behaviour and you are sentenced to unpaid work, as many people are, I don't see any reason why you shouldn't be out there in one of those fluorescent-jacketed chain gangs visibly paying your debt to society."

Home Secretary Priti Patel, who accompanied the PM on his visit to Surrey Police HQ in Guildford, wrote in the Daily Mail that unpaid work cleaning streets will be reintroduced as “the public want to see justice done and criminals pay the price for their crimes.”

In Surrey, Mr Johnson also defended the government's investment in police amid a furious backlash from officers over a pay freeze.

"When I stood on the steps of Downing Street two years ago I said I wanted another 20,000 officers on the streets of our country," he told reporters.

"We are now almost half the way there. We are putting £15.8 billion into supporting our police.

Boris Johnson defends the government's investment in the police:

"But of course it's been a tough time financially for the whole country."

He was commenting on the police pay freeze as chairman of the Police Federation John Apter took a letter to Number 10 setting out officers’ anger.

The Police Federation of England and Wales, representing more than 130,000 officers from the rank of constable to chief inspector, passed a motion of no confidence in Home Secretary Priti Patel last week in a row over pay.

Officers who earn more than £24,000 are subject to a pay freeze this year, compared with NHS staff who will receive 3%, and firefighters and local government workers who will get 1.5%.

Speaking on Downing Street after delivering the letter, Mr Apter said he fears officers are being "set up to fail" by the crime plan due to a lack of investment in policing and the criminal justice system.

"Policing at the moment, despite what we're being told, is not being invested in, but that goes for the whole criminal justice system.

"The whole criminal justice service, whether that's the courts, the Crown Prosecution Service, policing, is not being funded as it should be.

"We can't deliver what we want to and some of the announcements today that the Prime Minister's made, as laudable as they might intend to be, I fear they set us up to fail. That's a real concern."

Police minister Kit Malthouse said he understands people's disappointment and anger, adding that the decision to freeze police pay was "very tough".

"But I would say obviously the lowest paid police officers are still getting a pay rise, those who aren't at the top of the pay scale are getting a progression pay which equates to about 2%.

"We're also putting a huge amount in around supporting police officers, their welfare, their wellbeing."

'It's demoralising knowing that the justice system is failing you...'

Many feel police forces in the UK are too underfunded to deal with much of the crime which is reported to them.

One of those people is shopkeeper Amit Puntambekar, who has reported six crimes to Cambridgeshire Police during the pandemic.

He told ITV News: "I think (police) are too stretched so they de-prioritise us.

"Lower level crime has a real big impact I think. Once people know they can get away with doing this to small business.

"I've seen videos of retailers being attacked by machetes, weapons, and all of it starts by not addressing the first issue; low level theft.

"The reporting process is very tedious, it's long, so for some of the lower crime its not worth the time it takes to report it unfortunately.

"We have had instances where the physical violence, we've helped report. The police have come, they've taken the CCTV footage from the cameras, they've had the licence plate of the offender, but they haven't done anything with it.

"It's demoralising knowing that the justice system is failing you or failing the people that it should be supporting."

Mr Johnson’s reforms for England and Wales - announced on his first day after leaving self-isolation - will also see the extension of a pilot announced earlier this year, which involves burglars and thieves being made to wear GPS tags on release from prison.

The strategy will also trial the use of alcohol tags – which detect alcohol in the sweat of the wearer – on prison leavers in Wales in a bid to reduce alcohol-related crime.

The plans on stop and search will see a reversal of the limits imposed by Mr Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May during her time as home secretary.

Section 60 powers give officers the right to search people in a defined area during a specific time period when they expect serious violence, and officers can look for weapons before they can be used, or those used in a recent attack.

The permanent change follows a nationwide pilot which reduced the level of authorisation needed to impose a Section 60 order, and lowered the degree of certainty required.

Shadow employment minister Andy McDonald told ITV News the plans are a "complete and utter charade", with many of the policies already existing practice in many police forces.

On stop and search, he said: "I would say tread with care, we've been here before and we see it in this city and I would be very wary about this.

"We know how this impacts and it hits upon ethnic minorities much harder than other groups... I think we should take great care over this policy."

The party's shadow policing minister Sarah Jones labelled the government's crime beating plan as "piecemeal measures that don’t add up to anywhere near enough" to fix "over a decade of Tory failures on law and order".

Mr Johnson's strategy will also include plans for league tables for forces’ 101 and 999 call-answering times, a national online platform to allow the public to contact police, and efforts against county lines drug gangs to be intensified.

And £17 million package will be used to persuade young people who go to an emergency department with a stab wound or have contact with police to stay away from violence.

But Iryna Pona, policy manager at the Children's Society charity, said intervention should take place long before young people end up in hospital.

She added: "We want to see a long-term plan for investment in early help for children at the first signs that they are vulnerable to being groomed."

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