A POLICE chief has accused the Home Secretary of “sticking her head in the sand” after she said cutbacks could not be blamed for in increase in violent crime.

Ron Hogg, Durham’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) said he was astonished by Home Secretary Amber Rudd’s comments.

The Labour PCC said: “I’m absolutely astonished. We have a Home Secretary who is so out of touch with what’s happening.

“We have had senior police officers, including the Met’s commissioner Cressida Dick, saying there are a critical number of officers and saying the police are under serious strain and we have the Home Secretary saying it’s not the issue.”

He was responding to comments made by Amber Rudd, writing in the Sunday Telegraph.

She said: “As we confront this issue, I know that the same arguments and criticisms will emerge. One is the contention that there are not enough officers on the streets. The evidence, however, does not support this.

“In the early 2000s, when serious violent crimes were at their highest, police numbers were rising. In 2008, when knife crime was far greater than the lows we saw in 2013-14, police numbers were close to the highest we’d seen in decades.”

National figures show police in England and Wales registered rises of a fifth in offences involving knives, sharp instruments and firearms in the year to September.

Mr Hogg criticised the cuts, which has seen the number of officers in Durham Police reduce 25 per cent.

He said: “The Government has cut rashly without any thought.

“They haven’t listened to use, and others, who told them for years that what you get with less officers is more crime.

“They seem to stick their heads in the sand.”

He added that officers were becoming increasingly reactive.

He said: “Demand is rising, the crimes officers are investigating are more complex and the opportunities for police officers to take proactive action is reducing all the time.”

Ms Rudd is due to set out the Government’s strategy, aimed at tackling the “root causes” of serious violence.

Plans for the strategy were first announced in October but it has been finalised against a backdrop of calls for action after a spate of fatal stabbings and shootings in London.

Stop and search powers will be extended while a new Offensive Weapons Bill will be introduced within weeks.

It will include a new offence of possessing acid in a public place, prevent sales of acids to under-18s and stop knives being sent to people’s homes when bought on the internet.