London

London terror attacks 'stretched Met Police'

Armed police officer in central London Image copyright PA
Image caption In the recent general election campaign, the Tories said armed police officer numbers were on the rise but Labour insisted levels remained lower than in 2010

The Westminster and London Bridge attacks in London put a "lot of stretch" on the Metropolitan Police, its second in command has said.

Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey said officers had to work "incredibly hard" to cope.

He said the force had the resources to manage, but if there were more terror attacks, it would need more funds.

In the last four years, the Met has had to make £600m of savings and is due to face a £400m cut in the next four.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said this could see 12,800 jobs at risk.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Both Met Police commissioner Cressida Dick and Mayor Sadiq Khan have warned about future cuts

During the general election, police funding and cuts paid a prominent part following the London Bridge terror attack which saw eight people murdered.

Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson both said the amount spent on counter terrorism was protected.

'No more cuts'

At the London Assembly's Budget and Performance meeting, Mr Mackey said: "One of the dangers... in the past is, I think, people go, 'I like that bit, I want that bit and I'll ring fence that bit' but if you don't understand how the system works, unfortunately then you end up with gaps along the way."

Speaking of the Westminster terror attack in March, he said for every £1 the force spent on the counter terrorism investigation, it spent £2 in mobilising other officers.

Image caption Graph showing changes to police numbers in England and Wales in past decade

"In the true spirit of the Met police and in the true spirit of London they are coping incredibly well, but they are working incredibly hard to keep us in that position," he said.

The Deputy Mayor for Policing Sophie Linden said: "We don't think the Met can take any more budget cuts and savings."

She said pressures on the Met's budget comes from:

  • London having a growing - and young - population
  • An increase in violent crime, in particularly knife crime
  • Increased tourism
  • Football matches - last year it could only claim back £1.5m out of the £7m it spent on because it cannot charge clubs for anything outside the stadiums, for example policing Tube stations
  • State visits - which cost about £4m a year

Mrs May has insisted the UK's largest police force is "well-resourced", but has said she would consider new powers in response to the "increased tempo" of terror attacks.

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