CUTS to officer numbers will “severely impact” on the police’s ability to deal with a Paris-style terror attack, senior officers have warned.
In a letter that was sent to Home Secretary Theresa May following the atrocity and subsequently leaked, the officers argued that mainstream policing was crucial to tackling terrorism.
The letter on police preparedness, drafted by senior officials following a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee in the wake of the Paris massacres, states: “Police forces across England and Wales have already seen a reduction of 40,000 officers and further losses will severely impact on our surge capacity…”
Meanwhile, shadow home secretary Andy Burnham has issued a fresh warning against swingeing cuts being made to police forces’ funding as the government finalises the details of next week’s spending review, which is expected to squeeze budgets further.
He backed Britain’s police chiefs in calling on the government to rethink cuts to policing budgets.
In a letter to the Home Secretary, Mr Burnham wrote: “Given the events in Paris last weekend, we repeat our belief that it would be unwise to ask the police to deliver further difficult savings above 5 per cent over the next five years.”
He added: “Reductions in mainstream policing will not only significantly impact on the ‘surge’ ability of the police to provide the additional support required at an emergency incident but cuts to neighbourhood policing will have a detrimental effect on local intelligence gathering and countering terrorism.”
A National Police Chiefs’ Council spokeswoman said it did not comment on leaked documents, but that discussions regarding the force’s capacity to respond to an attack such as that in Paris were taking place with the government.