Boris Johnson appeared to defend the police against accusations they were “too wide awake” as he used his final days as prime minister to highlight their record in fighting crime.
The Prime Minister, who steps down when the Conservative Party’s search for a new leader concludes next week, defended his Government’s policing record and claimed his premiership had cracked down hard on crime neighborly
Johnson was speaking to broadcasters as he attended a raid with specialist officers near Lewisham, south London, where he spoke to staff from one of 20 so-called “violence reduction units” aimed at preventing crime through previous interventions.
It comes as the Telegraph reported that Home Secretary Priti Patel is urging officers to focus on the basics of policing, with a report from the Policy Exchange think tank warning that the public feels the police are being distracted by “woke” causes.
Johnson said: “You look at neighborhood crime, which is what really affects the quality of life for most people in this country, and it’s down about 38% from 2019 since this came into government
“I think it’s a great effort by the police, not just the metropolitan police, the police everywhere.
“And what you’re seeing is now 13,700 more police on the streets. That helps, that makes a difference.”
The Prime Minister referred to the recently passed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act as an example of how his government had empowered officers to deal with crime.
The government says more than 13,790 extra police officers have been recruited across England and Wales as part of Mr. Johnson to put 20,000 additional officers on the streets.
The recruitment drive comes after the number of police officers in England and Wales fell by more than 20,000 between 2009 and 2018, with Conservative-led governments in power since May 2010.
He said: “What also makes a difference is giving the police the powers to give criminals the tough sentences they deserve, and that’s what we’re putting in our legislation. I’m glad to see it taking effect, but I’m also happy to see the activism and energy of the police here in London.
“Yes, of course we need to make our society safer and safer, but look at what they’ve done — a 38 percent reduction in crime in the neighborhood, I think that’s a massive achievement.”
The Prime Minister also appeared to play down concerns that the police would be distracted by “woke” problems.
“Well, I just saw them. I tell you what, I just saw a bunch of police officers that woke up a lot of drug dealers this morning and they woke them up way before they expected to have breakfast,” he said.
“They were woken up with orders and woken up with the news that they were being held for causing misery in the communities of London.
“And that’s what I want the police to do, that’s what Priti wants them to do.
“I appreciate what they’re doing. They’re doing an absolutely fantastic job.”
Johnson also referenced his record in crime prevention as he dodged a question about how he would like to be remembered.
He replied: “I think like the Prime Minister who in three years helped reduce neighborhood crime by 38%, thanks to the work of the Metropolitan Police and others. Thank you so much.”