Police cuts criticism resurfaces in wake of latest terrorist attack

5 Jun 17

Criticism of cuts to the police force has resurfaced in the wake of the third terrorist atrocity in Britain in just over two months.

Opposition parties have slammed Theresa May’s record on falling numbers of police officers during her time has home secretary and recently as prime minister.

Home Office figures show the number of police officers in England and Wales dropped by 20,000 between 2010 and 2016.

On Sunday, leader of the Labour party Jeremy Corbyn, said: “You cannot protect the public on the cheap.

“The police and security services must get the resources they need, not 20,000 police cuts.”

Labour have pledged to recruit 10,000 more police officers over the next parliament.

Today, Corbyn called for May to resign as prime minister for presiding over cuts in police numbers while home secretary.

The Labour leader said he backed similar calls by "very responsible people" who are "very worried" about her record.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron wrote in the Guardian: "In the choice between cuts to corporation tax and properly funding our police, we should fund our police.

"Let's be clear: fewer police on the beat means fewer conversations, less information being passed on and less knowledge about who’s who and who needs to be kept under surveillance."

The Lib Dems have also pledged to provide the police with an additional £300m to combat violent extremism.

On Saturday night three men drove a van into pedestrians on London Bridge before stabbing people in Borough Market, killing eight people and injuring 48 others – eight minutes after the first 999 call the attackers were shot dead by police.

This attack follows the suicide bombing at the Manchester Arena on May 22 and a similar vehicular attack and stabbing on Westminster Bridge and outside Parliament on March 22.

Both Farron and Corbyn criticised May’s approach to tackling Islamic extremism after she called on big internet companies to help the government and its international partners “regulate” cyberspace.

In a speech outside Downing Street the prime minister said: “We need to work with allied, democratic governments to reach international agreements that regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremism and terrorist planning.

“And we need to do everything we can at home to reduce the risks of extremism online.”

Farron said politicians should not indulge in “posturing” and actually work with technology companies like Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, and other countries, to develop solutions that work to keep people safe.

He added: "The alternative is a government that monitors and controls the internet in the way that China or North Korea does.

"If we turn the internet into a tool for censorship and surveillance, the terrorists will have won.

“We won’t make ourselves safer by making ourselves less free.”  

Corbyn and Farron also criticised Britain’s close links to states like Saudi Arabia and other gulf states, which have funded extremist ideologies.

The Lib Dems have called on the government to release a “long-awaited” report on foreign funding of extremism.

David Cameron announced in December 2015 that a “comprehensive review” of extremism funding within the UK would conducted to examine specifically the nature, scale and origin of the funding of Islamist extremist activity in the UK, including any overseas sources.

Security minister Ben Wallace slammed Corbyn’s comments, accusing him of not supporting anti-terror laws during his years in parliament.

Wallace added: “Voters will judge him on his views and actions in the last 30 years, not his desperate promises and evasive soundbites three days out from polling day.”

The Sun on Sunday reported that MI5 wanted the government to approve a raft of measures to tackle the growing threat of terrorism in the UK.

Security chiefs are to present a ‘wish list’ to Theresa May, including a request for electronic tags for high risk suspected terrorists and increased resources for the 0800 anti-terror hotline with speakers of key languages like Pashtu, Punjabi, Arabic, Farsi and Urdu recruited.

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