POLICE bosses insist there are no plans to re-write the force stop and search policy despite a rise in violent crime.

The number of people searched by Wiltshire Police has fallen by more than 70 per cent in the last five years, with1,600 searches made by officers last year.

At the same time, since 2014/15, the number of violent crimes has jumped by 43 per cent, with more than 13,000 recorded by Wiltshire Police in the year to September 2017, the most recent period for which data is available.

Over the same three-year period the number of people reported for possessing weapons like knives increased by almost 44 per cent.

However, drug offences fell by a quarter, with just over 1,000 recorded in 2016/17.

Nationally, police chiefs have called for an increase in the use of stop-and-search powers in a bid to tackle violent crimes.

Sara Thornton, chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, wrote in the Daily Telegraph: “This power may have been used too freely in the past, but the pendulum has now swung too far in the opposite direction.

“Our officers must know that we back them to use their powers – lawfully and respectfully, but with confidence.”

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme that he’d instructed the Metropolitan Police to increase “intelligence-led” stop-and-search operations in a bid to curb knife crimes.

Wiltshire Police was readmitted to the national Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme in 2016, after crashing out earlier in the year for failing to meet key requirements of the scheme.

The guidelines were introduced by then Home Secretary Theresa May in 2014, with the aim of improving transparency and reducing the number of “no suspicion” searches.

The force has described its stop and search policy as “robust and thorough” and a spokesman said there was no plan to rewrite it.

Earlier in the day, Home Secretary Amber Rudd came under fire after a leaked government memo linked a rise in violent crime to cuts in police officer numbers.

The Home Office document, obtained by The Guardian, said: “Officers’ number have fallen by five per cent since 2014. So, resources dedicated to serious violence have come under pressure and charge rates have dropped. This may have encouraged offenders.”

In Wiltshire, officer numbers dropped by 3.6 per cent last year according to government figures. Sexual offences recorded by the force are up by 30 per cent since 2014/15.

Angus Macpherson, police and crime commissioner for Wiltshire, said that the force was doing the best it could with the available resources.

He said: “Whilst we live in a safe county, there’s only so far the budget will stretch and we’re streamlining our services to ensure they’re as efficient as possible at the same time as keeping the public safe, but we are feeling the squeeze more than ever.

“Wiltshire Police has seen the second highest change in the country in emergency incidents when comparing 2015/16 with 2016/17, yet the funding we receive from central government doesn’t recognise the increasing pressures we face.”