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Nation special report

LONDON: In wake of ongoing election campaign, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged that the police will be given “greater freedoms” to use stop and search on those known to have carried knives in the past.

Boris Johnson also plans to speed up charging and prosecuting knife offenders if the Tories win next month’s election. Stop and search powers have proved controversial – and there is evidence that black people are disproportionately targeted. But the government has previously said they work and “empower” the police.

Speaking at a boxing ring in Manchester, Mr Johnson said he wanted to “come down hard” on the “scourge” of knife crime, the BBC has reported.

Talking about his plans to extend stop and search to those with a previous conviction for carrying a knife, he said: “We think that that will deter young people who have been convicted of carrying from getting back involved in that kind of life again.”

Currently police officers are allowed to stop and search individuals if they have reason to suspect serious violence may take place.

Speaking in August, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Stop and search works – we hear again and again from police that [they] need to be empowered.” But Labour’s Diane Abbott said the powers did not reduce violent crime.

Prosecution times

Mr Johnson also said his government would be “speeding up prosecutions to make sure the threat of being caught is always an effective deterrent”. Under his proposals, someone caught unlawfully with a knife would be arrested and charged within 24 hours – and appear in court within a week.

The Conservatives say this would be three times faster than the current average. BBC Reality Check journalist Gaetan Portal says although the current average time from offence to charge is 40 days, the median time – arguably a more representative measure – is just one day.

The current median time between someone being charged with an offence and appearing in court is 17 days. Our Reality Check team says decreasing this time will require investment in the criminal justice system.

Violence reduction units

Mr Johnson also said the solution lay in “wrapping your arms around the kids and putting them on the right tracks in their lives”.

He reiterated a previous pledge to boost funding for violence reduction units by £35m in 2020. These units tackle knife crime by involving multiple public service providers on early intervention projects. This method of reducing knife crime was first tried in Scotland in 200

NHS pledge

Boris Johnson pledged to put £6 billion worth of planned tax cuts for big business on ice and told bosses he will shift the money into the National Health Service and “priorities of the people” instead.

The hugely symbolic move to slam the brakes on corporation tax cutting was made by the Prime Minister in a speech to Britain’s biggest bosses’ organisation, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

Mr Johnson, who came armed with promises of extra help for small firms and the high street, said the Conservatives “proudly back businesses” which create the wealth to pay for public services including the NHS. But he continued: “I hope you will understand if I also announce today that we are postponing further cuts in corporation tax. “Let me remind you that this saves £6 billion that we can put into the priorities of the British people including the NHS.”

Under the Tories, corporation tax has already fallen from 28 to 19 per cent, making it the lowest rate of any comparable economy.