Home Secretary Sajid Javid will meet police chiefs to combat the rise in stabbings in what has been called a “national knife crime emergency”.

Senior officers from seven of the forces most affected by violent crime will attend the meeting on Wednesday – the Metropolitan Police, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, West Midlands, South Wales, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire.

A recent surge in knife crime in the UK has sparked a heated debate over police officer numbers in England and Wales, which have dropped by more than 20,000 since 2010.

At least 35 people are suspected to have been deliberately stabbed to death since the start of the year.

Jodie Chesney and Yousef Ghaleb Makki were stabbed to death at the weekend
Image: Jodie Chesney and Yousef Ghaleb Makki were stabbed to death at the weekend

Three teenagers died in the space of 12 days in Birmingham last month, while the most recent deaths include 17-year-olds Jodie Chesney and Yousef Ghaleb Makki.

Police said a man has been arrested and detained in Leicester over the murder of Jodie, who was stabbed to death in an east London park.

Meanwhile two teenagers have been charged and will appear in court on Wednesday in the connection with Yousef’s murder in Greater Manchester.

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Britain’s most senior police officers have clashed with Theresa May over her claim that there was no direct link with cuts in police numbers and the latest surge of knife crime.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick insisted there is “obviously” a connection between reductions in officer numbers and street violence.

A Sky data poll revealed that 77% disagree with the prime minister and believe police funding cuts are a major factor behind the rise in violent crime.

Sky Data poll on knife crime
Image: Sky Data interviewed a nationally representative sample of 1,102 UK adult Sky customers by SMS on 5 March 2018. Data are weighted to the profile of the population. Sky Data is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said the British military would be prepared to tackle knife crime, claiming the army and Ministry of Defence “always stands ready to help any government department”.

“I know that the Home Secretary is looking very closely at how he can ensure that everything is done to tackle this problem at the moment,” he said.

On Tuesday, Mrs May described the killings of Jodie and Yousef as “absolutely appalling” at a cabinet meeting on the knife crime crisis.

She said the problem would require “a whole-of-government effort, in conjunction with the police, the wider public sector and local communities”.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson during his visit to visit RAF Marham in Norfolk
Image: Gavin Williamson said the army would be ready to help the government tackle knife crime

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Mrs May “needs to listen to grieving families, police chiefs across the country and her own Home Secretary, and the communities decimated by cuts”.

Police figures show violent crime rose by nearly a fifth in the year to September 2018, escalating the debate over whether the rise in knife crime is related to falling officer numbers.

Chairwoman of the National Police Chief’s Council Sara Thornton and Labour former minister Vernon Coaker called for the issue to be treated as “a national emergency”.

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