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While the UK government is increasing its anti-terror budget, the resources allocated to the police to thwart terrorist plots are being cut.
This policy has been criticised by Sara Thornton, chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, who said the cuts come at a time of unprecedented threat, with Britain having suffered five attacks in the past six months, with more feared. Thornton said: “In response to this significant threat, the government is increasing the money it spends on terrorism from £11.7bn to £15.1bn but only about £700m per annum is spent on policing. And the allocation of this budget for policing is set to be cut by 7.2% in the next three years. When the volume and nature of a threat is growing alarmingly, that is a real concern.”
According to theguardian.com, Thornton’s comments came one week after an attempt to kill rush-hour commuters on a tube train in Parsons Green, west London.
She said that terror attacks place extra demands not just on counter-terrorism officers but the whole policing system, which is already overstretched. After the Manchester bombing in May that claimed 22 lives, three-quarters of the resources deployed in response came from everyday policing.
But recent attacks have made police chiefs more determined to fight back and press for extra funding, given what is expected to be an enduring and potentially escalating terrorist threat.
She added the funding squeeze risked damaging neighbourhood policing and the trust necessary for people to give officers information to catch terrorists. Thornton said: “Fewer officers and police community support officers will cut off the intelligence that is so crucial to preventing attacks.”
Meanwhile, thetimes.co.uk reported in August that the Scotland Yard increased the amount it spent on weapons and ammunition last year to almost six times the sum the previous year. The Metropolitan Police spent £9.4 million on guns, bullets, Tasers and smoke and stun grenades in the year to March compared with about £1.6 million over the previous 12 months, according to data acquired through a freedom of information request.
The figures for firearms spending rose to £5.7 million, nearly five times the total spent over the preceding six years.