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The prime minister has defended plans to widen police use of stop and search powers, describing it as a “kind and loving” way to get dangerous weapons off the streets.

Speaking as the government set out its new Beating Crime Plan for England and Wales, Boris Johnson said stop and search was not a “strong-arm” tactic and plays an “important part in fighting crime”.

The blueprint includes a permanent relaxing of conditions on the use of Section 60 stop and search powers, which allow officers to search someone without reasonable grounds in an area where serious violence is expected.

West Midlands PCSO Rob Capella holds two examples of 'zombie knives' at a secure police location in Birmingham in 2016
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The conditions on use of stop and search powers will be ‘permanently relaxed’ under the new plan

“They are not the only tool that we have got to use. They are part of a range of things we have got to do to fight street crime,” the PM said when asked about stop and search during a broadcast pool clip.

“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 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.”

Speaking to Kay Burley on Sky News earlier, policing minister Kit Malthouse defended the plans to relax rules on the use of police stop and search.

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He said that although it is not a “long-term solution” it can have a “big impact on suppressing knife crime” in the short term.

But human rights organisation Liberty has said easing the restrictions will “compound discrimination”.

Mr Johnson, who made the comments during a visit to Surrey Police headquarters alongside Home Secretary Priti Patel, also said he wanted hi-vis “chain gangs” to act as a deterrent against anti-social behaviour.

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Police pay freeze is ‘tough’

The PM said he wanted those who engage in such behaviour to be “properly paying their debt to society”, adding: “Somebody’s anti-social behaviour may be treated as a minor crime but it could be deeply distressing to those who are victims.

“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.

“So you are going to be seeing more of that as well.”

Other measures contained in the government’s plan include the creation of league tables for 101 and 999 call answering times so the public can see how quickly their local force is responding to calls for help.

The initiative will also ensure every neighbourhood in England and Wales is allocated a named and contactable police officer dedicated to serving their area.

But the PM is facing anger from police officers over elements of the plan, as well as a pay freeze.

Home Secretary Priti Patel
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The Police Federation of England and Wales passed a motion of no confidence in the home secretary last week

John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, will deliver a letter to Downing Street on Tuesday.

“Police officers are sick of gimmicks. Sick of underfunding. Sick of mixed messaging putting police at risk. Sick of government contempt for police,” it says.

“It’s time for a total reset of police-government relations.”

The body, which represents more than 130,000 officers from the rank of constable to chief inspector, passed a motion of no confidence in the home secretary last week in a row over pay.

Surrey Police Federation criticised the pair’s visit, with chairwoman Mel Warnes saying: “Our colleagues should not be used as public relations pawns by politicians.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel during a visit to Surrey Police headquarters in Guildford, Surrey
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel during a visit to Surrey Police headquarters in Guildford, Surrey

“I very much doubt any of our colleagues will be smiling at the thought of meeting two people who have decided against giving them any sort of pay rise despite everything police officers across the country have done these past 18 months.

“Police officers have given everything. The government has given us nothing.”

Other measures proposed include:

• The 24 hour-a-day monitoring of burglars and thieves using electronic surveillance

• Permanently relaxing conditions on the use of stop and search powers to take more knives off the streets

• Getting offenders to clean up streets, alleys, estates and open spaces

• A new £17m package for Violence Reduction Units to divert individuals away from violence

• Rolling out two further rounds of the Safer Streets Fund including increased lighting and CCTV

• Enhancing the role of Police and Crime Commissioners by giving them the tools they need to drive down crime

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Labour accused the government of being “all talk and no action” on crime and offering “rehashed policies” that “won’t make our streets safer”.

“On their watch, police numbers are down and community policing has been decimated,” shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said.

“Coupled with an insulting pay freeze, it is no wonder frontline police have declared no confidence in the home secretary.

“There are already targets in place for emergency response times and having named officers in wards is not enough to make up for the devastating scale of Conservative cuts to community policing that drove police numbers down by 21,000.

“Little wonder that, on their watch, anti-social behaviour is rocketing, there are record low convictions for rape, and violent crime is devastating communities across the country.”

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The seizure of the Samourai Wallet website and the indictment of its founders might have implications for other privacy-preserving self-custodial tools.

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How Beth Rigby prepared a ‘narrative’ for Starmer and Sunak grilling – and why an early jog almost ruined everything

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How Beth Rigby prepared a 'narrative' for Starmer and Sunak grilling - and why an early jog almost ruined everything

Beth Rigby has revealed how she decided on a “narrative” before quizzing the Labour and Tory leaders at Sky News’s special event – and how a morning run almost scuppered everything.

Sir Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak took turns for a 45-minute grilling at Sky News’ Battle For Number 10 in Grimsby, with questions coming from a representative audience.

First to interrogate both leaders was political editor Rigby, who has lifted the lid on what it’s like to prepare, execute (and almost miss) the big event.

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“Kay Burley told me when I first came into telly ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’,” she told former Labour MP Margaret Hodge on the Electoral Dysfunction podcast.

“So, I took these two mottos into this very intense interview prep… you get loads of information and you start to try and work out what’s the narrative that you want to tell.”

The secret, she said, is to look at everything and then “distill it” until you have a clear “narrative arc”.

“With Starmer, the thing really was – how can you trust this guy? That was the premise,” she said.

“But for Sunak, it was like, you say you’ve got a clear plan, you say you’re going to deliver… so, what’s the Conservative record? But more importantly, what’s your record?

“Because you’ve actually been prime minister. You made five pledges, and then there was a broader question about what were the betrayals to the British people.”

Sir Keir Starmer leaders' debate
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Beth Rigby in action

Read more:
How the Sky News event unfolded online
What we learnt at leaders’ event

But disaster almost struck before the event had even started.

“The night before, I woke up at, like, five in the morning, fully awake,” she said, adding she could “feel the adrenaline”.

So, she decided to go for a run.

“I just saw I’m coming to the end of the road. And I went to turn round, and, as I turned, I nearly ran into a moving car. So, I nearly got run over,” she explained.

Not the kind of car crash anyone would have expected that day.

Email the team electoraldysfunction@sky.uk, post on X to @BethRigby, or send a WhatsApp voice note on 07934 200 444.

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