The former Labour Home Secretary has accused the prime minister of being in “complete denial” about the causes of knife crime, after she suggested that there “was no direct correlation between certain crimes and police numbers".
Jack Straw told talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer: “There is no question overall that having more police available and along with giving them more powers is one way of bearing down on crime.”
The Home Secretary Sajid Javid has called for the government to give police "more confidence" over the use of stop-and-search powers.
This is despite Theresa May introducing reforms in 2014 to ensure stop and search was used in a more targeted way, following criticism that the tactics unfairly focused on black and minority ethnic individuals.
Mr Straw added: “Since 1995, through Tony Blair’s and Gordon Brown’s government more resources were put into the police, along with investment in social services and education, and crime came down.
“I am sorry that Mrs May is in complete denial about what has happened on her watch.
“She has bought into some nonsensical stuff from some criminologists who say there is no relationship between crime and police numbers.
“She has very complacently drove police numbers down by 20,000.”
'Causing deaths on the streets'
Mr Straw also attacked Mrs May’s decision to reduce the capacity for stop and search.
“The other thing she did – which I was astonished by – was cut the powers of police to be able to stop and search,” he said.
“You have got to face the fact that because a disproportionate number of the perpetrators of this violence are black or Asian, a disproportionate number of people being stopped on the streets are going to be black or Asian.
“That is not a problem that the police has caused. The other side of this that people have to remember before they start shouting about police powers is that an overwhelming number of the victims of these crimes are also black and Asian.”
Former Detective Chief Inspector Mike Neville told Julia that deaths from knife crime will not stop until the UK gets new political and police leadership.
“The types of students that they are recruiting into the police think stop and search is racist, so the police think stop and search is racist,” he said.
“You have got this whole bizarre affair of society of having the wrong police and the wrong leaders.”
He added: “We need new leadership. You can’t solve the problem with the same failed people and the same left-wing liberal dribble –also coming from the Conservative party – it is causing deaths of the streets.”