MP’S police cuts warning

Andy Burnham
Andy Burnham

CUTS to officer numbers will “severely impact” on the ability of the police to deal with a Paris-style attack, the Home Secretary has been warned.

In a letter sent to Mrs May following the atrocity, senior police officers said that mainstream policing is crucial in tackling terrorism.

Local MP and Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham has issued a fresh warning against imposing swingeing cuts on police forces as the government finalises the details of next week’s spending review, which is set to squeeze budgets further.

The letter on police preparedness, which was sent by senior officials following a meeting of the emergency cobra committee in the wake of the killing spree, 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...”

Mr Burnham, along with police chiefs across the country, has called on the government to rethink on cuts to policing budgets.

Labour has warned that savings above 10% would be “dangerous and put public safety at risk”.

In a letter to the Home Secretary, Mr Burnham said: “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% 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: “Following the tragic terrorist attack in Paris last week, we have been reviewing our ability to respond to a well organised, multi-sited terrorist in the UK.

“Our officers are well trained and equipped and we are constantly evolving to meet the threat from terrorism.

“As you would expect, we are discussing our capacity to respond to an attack like the one in Paris with the Government.

“These discussions include assessments of the number of officers we have to counter terrorism and the impact of future funding cuts.

“We do not comment on leaked documents, which form part of these important discussions.”

Meanwhile, a leading children’s chariity has revealed that dozens of youngsters have called a children’s helpline with fears that they will be victims of terrorist attacks following the Paris massacres.

NSPCC’s ChildLine reported more than 100 calls from children as young as nine who told counsellors they feared something was going to happen to them, were frightened to leave the house, and struggled to think of anything else.

Some even said they feared the world was on the brink of a third world war.

One 12-year-old girl told a ChildLine counsellor: “I have heard that Isis are in the UK and are planning a deadly attack. I don’t feel safe any more and am having nightmares.

“These worries are in my mind all the time and I can’t get them out.”

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said: “The attacks in Paris were atrocious, and our thoughts are with all of those who have been affected by these hideous attacks on innocent lives.

“The avalanche of calls to ChildLine about this tragedy only adds to the feelings of fear and sadness that these evil attacks have prompted around the world. Many of the victims were young people and that will have heightened the fears of those who have seen others their age brutally murdered.

“It is crucial that children can talk about their feelings following these senseless killings, and are given reassurance and support.”