Boris Johnson has joined new police officers on the frontline as he marks his final few days as prime minister.
The victor of the Conservative leadership contest and Mr Johnson’s successor – either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak – will be announced on 5 September, replacing him in Number 10 the following day.
With less than a week to go into the job, the PM attended a raid near Lewisham, south London, and spoke to officers from one of the 20 Violence Reduction units set up by his government to see the work they are doing to prevent crime in the community.
Johnson touring country in last week as PM – Politics latest
The visit comes as a new report from right-wing think tank Policy Exchange urges the next prime minister to get police to “return to basics [and] focus on fighting crime” rather than being “woke”.
Asked about the report, Mr Johnson said: “I have just seen a bunch of police officers who woke up quite a lot of drug dealers this morning, they woke them up before they were expecting to have their breakfast and they woke them up with warrants and they woke up them with the news they were under arrest for causing misery in the communities of London.
“That’s what I want the police to do, that’s what [Home Secretary] Priti [Patel] wants them to do. I thank them for what they are doing. They do an absolutely fantastic job.”
The aim of Violence Reduction Units is to bring together key local partners, including health, education and policing organizations to target the underlying causes of violence, and prevent children and young people being exploited by criminal gangs.
The government says the units have prevented more than 49,000 violent offenses in their first two years and supported about 260,000 vulnerable young people in their second year alone.
Downing Street says that so far, 13,790 extra police officers have been hired across England and Wales as part of the Conservative government’s 2019 manifesto commitment to put 20,000 additional officers on our streets.
Speaking to reporters this morning, Mr Johnson defended his government’s record when it came to tackling crime, saying: “Look at neighborhood crime, which is the thing that really affects the quality of life of most people in this country, and it’s down by about 38% on 2019 since this government came in.
“I think that’s a great effort by the police, not just by the Metropolitan Police, by police up and down the country.
“And what you’re seeing is 13,700-odd more police now on the streets. That helps, that makes a difference.”
The PM also praised the controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill for “giving the police the powers they need to give criminals the tough sentences that they deserve.”
The PM is carrying out a tour of the UK this week as his premiership comes to an end, with his next stop on Wednesday set to be in northeast England, alongside Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles and Defense Secretary Ben Wallace.
The trio are expected to discuss security threats facing the UK and its allies, including the Aukus defense pact.
Speaking in north Dorset on Tuesday – during a trip to mark gigabit broadband roll-outs – Mr Johnson refused to be drawn on whether he was planning a political comeback after leaving Downing Street, saying: “I think on the whole people in this country are more interested in their gigabit broadband than they are in the fate of this or that politician .”
And asked today what he wanted to be remembered for, he kept on message, telling reporters: “As the prime minister who in three years helped to bring neighborhood crime down by 38% thanks to the work of the Metropolitan Police and others.”
Meanwhile, new polling from Ipsos has shown that half – 51% – of UK voters would support having a general election this year after the change in prime minister.
The survey of 2,164 adults – including 634 Conservative 2019 voters and 561 Labor 2019 voters – was carried out from 5 August to 8 August.