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Anti-terror ops pushing police to limit, says chief

Warning: Sara Thornton PIC: REX

THE pressure of dealing with terror attacks is placing an unsustainable strain on Britain’s police forces, says one of the country’s most senior officers.

And the government is putting the public’s trust in the police at risk by cutting funding, said Sara Thornton, head of the National Police Chiefs’ Council.

The five terror attacks to hit the UK this year are pushing ‘already stretched services’ to their limits, she said. ‘Every time there’s a terror attack, we mobilise specialist officers, but the majority come from mainstream policing. This disrupts the daily work of policing on which the public rely.’

With officer numbers cut to 1985 levels, crime up ten per cent in the past year and police work becoming ‘ever more complex’, this ‘additional pressure is not sustainable’, she warned.

In a blog published today, Ms Thornton argued that while counter-terrorism spending has risen from £11.7billion to £15.1billion, the amount allocated to policing — currently £700million a year — is set to be cut by 7.2 per cent in the next three years.

‘When the volume and nature of threat is growing alarmingly, that is a real concern,’ she said.

The government must make resources ‘part of the conversation’, she said. Force chiefs will do all they can to prevent terrorism, but under current restraints ‘difficult and unpalatable’ choices may be required, she warned.