• Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits Milton Keynes police station

Byoxfordnewspaper

Aug 31, 2022

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was talked-through an app developed to clamp-down on violent ‘hotspots’, as he visited Thames Valley Police officers today.

The app was developed by the region’s violence reduction unit and trialled in various areas across Oxfordshire, including Blackbird Leys following a spate of stabbings in late 2021 and early this year.

It saw traffic officers spend comparatively short periods patrolling ‘hotspots’, providing a visible police presence in a bid to deter crime. The scheme is now being rolled out across the force.

Mr Johnson, reportedly the first Prime Minister to have been fined by the police while in office over the 'Partygate' scandal, visited Milton Keynes police station on Wednesday. The premier, who will be replaced as Conservative Party leader next week, spoke to officers and staff at the town centre police station.

Deputy director of the violence reduction unit DCI Lewis Prescott-Mayling said: “Today’s visit gave an opportunity to discuss our investment into early intervention and diversion programmes, which seek to prevent young people from being drawn into crime in the first place.

“Also, we showcased new technology that we have developed to help us target police and partnership activity, together with a new mobile phone app which tasks officers to violence hotspots, prioritising our resources to what we call ‘hot places’ and targeting ‘hot people’ who continue to engage in violence and knife crime.

“These are approaches we apply across the whole Thames Valley region as we seek to tackle violence and its root cause to build safer communities.”

The violence reduction units were formed in 2019, as part of the government’s £100m Serious Violence Fund.

Inspired by work done in Glasgow to reduce knife crime and assaults, they were charged with developing a ‘public health’ approach to bringing together organisations from councils to the NHS in order to reduce violent crime.

At the same time as the units were set up, the government implemented plans to recruit 20,000 new police officers. At the time, critics said England and Wales had lost that number in ‘austerity’ cost-cutting drives from 2010.

In the Thames Valley, police bosses have recruited almost three-quarters of their allocation of new officers. More than 2,600 were hired last year alone.

However, Home Office figures suggest that the overall number of police officers has remained roughly level. In March 2010, the region had 4,434 full-time-equivalent officers compared to 4,534 this March.

Home Secretary Priti Patel, who joined her boss for the Milton Keynes visit, claimed the new officer recruitment programme was ‘delivering the next generation of highly motivated officers, and supporting forces like Thames Valley Police in the fight against serious violence’.

The Oxford Mail was not invited to attend Wednesday’s event.

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @t_seaward