This is a television news interview you’re unlikely to see re-run in full on any major news channel any time soon.
After four young men were killed on New Year’s Eve in our city, Sky News conducted this interview with a former senior police officer to try to explain the events.
A former Detective Chief Inspector with 21 years’ service in the Metropolitan Police, and with an on-going business involved in security in the capital, Peter Kirkham is not a fly-by-night commentator or politician.
But his interview is an articulate demolition of this government’s policy, and in particular of Theresa May, who Kirkham accuses of having “the blood of these young people on her hands,” after her near eight years in office, as Home Secretary and lately as Prime Minister.
Rising crime rates, more knife crime and more murders on our streets, across the country, not just in London, Kirkham says, is a direct result of this government’s cuts – Theresa May’s cuts, to police numbers, which are 20,000 down on what they were in 2010.
Kirkham calls this “institutional racism”, since much of the harm being caused by the rise in violent crime is happening in the poorest neighbourhoods, and in BME communities, rather in white, better-off, middle class neighbourhoods such as Maidenhead, May’s home constituency.
It is, says Kirkham, “a public disaster happening in slow motion in front of our eyes”.
Of the tragic events of the New Year’s Eve stabbings, Kirkham explained, “It is unusual for four to die.
“Sadly it is anything but unusual for a number of things to happen on the same night. That is now absolutely typical of a Friday and Saturday night across London.”
Kirkham’s measured, calm delivery, if anything, made what he had to say all the more shocking.
“I hate to think what the death toll would be if it weren’t for the great skills of the ambulance service, the helicopter medics and the air ambulance. It is horrendous out there.”
The Sky News interviewer, Rebecca Williams, then asked, “Do you think there’s a reason that such horrific events like this are happening?”
“Yes, it is very obvious,” Kirkham said, his controlled anger seething within.Kirkham was probably aware that
“Theresa May has cut the service so that there are no longer police officers on the street and the control of public space has been lost. This is just one symptom of that. There are numerous others.”
The whole interview is a devastating indictment of the policy of enforced austerity and the impact it has been having on public services, across Britain, London and in Croydon.
Kirkham, and colleagues still serving in the Met, are known to be particularly anxious about the mounting risks that their ever-thinner blue line is facing on the streets, as demonstrated by the police officer stabbed on Sutton High Street during the performance of his duties on Tuesday night.
Steve O’Connell is the London Assembly Member for Sutton and Croydon. O’Connell is also a councillor for Kenley.
It is worth noting that in his role as a London Assembly Member and member of the Assembly’s police and crime committee, which he now chairs, O’Connell has overseen the closure of all but one 24/7 police station in Croydon, and a thorough-going reduction in neighbourhood policing in the borough since 2010.
O’Connell, of course, is a member of the Conservatives, the self-proclaimed “party of law and order”.
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