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George Osborne Under Intense Pressure To Protect Police Budgets

Senior police officials have warned that cuts may leave the UK with insufficient defence in the case of a Paris-style attack.

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Chancellor George Osborne is facing increasing pressure to protect police budgets after last Friday's terror attacks in Paris.

London mayor Boris Johnson is the latest high-profile figure to come out against proposed cuts to policing and has appealed directly to the prime minister to protect London's police force, the Evening Standard reports.

Johnson’s intervention comes as a series of police officials suggested that Britain may not be able to cope with a Paris-style attack, in which terrorists target multiple locations simultaneously, if the force is cut.

On Tuesday, the head of the Metropolitan police force, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, said the capital needed more armed police officers. Speaking on LBC, the commissioner said: "If we could keep at least 30,000 cops, I can make this city safe. If it’s below that, I start to get worried."

London's police force is currently made up of 32,000 officers, but cuts expected in next week's spending review mean the Met could be forced to lose 5,000 officers.

A leaked letter to the Home Office, written at the request of the emergency COBR committee, will pile yet more pressure on Osborne as it reveals concerns from police officials.

In the letter, a senior police chief warned: “It would be remiss of me not to highlight the impact further reductions in police force numbers would have on our ability to manage terrorist incidents of this magnitude, particularly if spread simultaneously across a number of geographical locations."

Labour’s shadow home secretary, Andy Burnham, wrote to home secretary Theresa May on Friday after seeing the leaked letter. He warned the government over the scale of its cuts, saying: “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.”

The letter emerged after the government was already facing increasing scrutiny. On Wednesday, Britain's former counter-terrorism head warned that incoming cuts to policing "will make Britain more vulnerable to terrorism."

Robert Quick, who is now Scotland Yard’s assistant commissioner, told The Guardian that the cuts "will damage the police’s ability to counter terrorism if neighbourhood policing is cut. It will lead to a loss of intelligence, a loss of confidence and trust."


Siraj Datoo is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Siraj Datoo at siraj.datoo@buzzfeed.com.

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