Boris Johnson is facing calls to apologise for saying money spent investigating historic child sex abuse was being “spaffed up the wall”.
The former foreign secretary called the probe “malarkey” in a rant about spending public money on police resources to tackle knife crime.
He drew the comparison during a radio phone-in on LBC, responding to this year’s spate of violent attacks.
“Keeping [police] numbers high on the streets is certainly important, but the question is where you spend the money and where you deploy the officers,” the former mayor of London said.
“One comment I would make is I think an awful lots of money, an awful lot of police time now goes into these historic offences and all this malarkey.
“£60m I saw was being spaffed up the wall on some investigation into historic child abuse and all this kind of thing.
“What on earth is that going to do to protect the public now?
“What the people want is to see officers out on the streets doing what they were signed up to do.”
The Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) was set up in 2014 by Theresa May, when she was home secretary.
It was created to address public concern over “failings” by public bodies to take seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse.
It is one of the largest and most expensive inquiries ever undertaken in Britain.
Mr Johnson was criticised for his comments by the Labour Party chair Ian Lavery.
He said: “These disgusting comments are an insult to every survivor of child sex abuse.
“If Boris Johnson has even a little bit of decency he will now apologise to the victims and families of those who have suffered.”
Nazir Afzal, a former chief prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service, also said on Twitter: “Boris Johnson thinks spending money on delivering justice to victims of child sexual abuse is wasted.
“Tell that to those whose lives were devastated by abusers.
“Tell that Frances Andrade who took her own life 30 years after the abuse she lived with every day.”
Labour MP John Mann also said: “Try telling that to my constituent whose rapist got 19 years after we pressured for case to be re-opened.”
Earlier in the interview, Mr Johnson played down speculation he was jostling to take over as prime minister.
“There is no vacancy and that is not what people want, what they want is to get Brexit done.
“They certainly don’t want to see any change in the leadership now.”