Response to the London attacks

Sadly, we have seen three terrorist attacks in quick succession in the UK. Our thoughts go out to the innocent victims and to the brave first responders who lost their lives or were injured.

We need to try to better understand how we, as a society, can dilute the radical hate and come together as one. This is an important time, with the prize of any democracy, a general election, happening this week. Nothing or nobody must ever be allowed to deter, prevent or frustrate the inherent right of every UK citizen to vote in our free elections.

This is a complicated landscape and once the election is complete, we must address the factors that are feeding recurring terrorist attacks.

Firstly, we face greater online radicalisation, and I support the drive to hold social media companies to account for policing this.

Secondly, there appears to be a clear increase in home grown radicalisation. Police and security services cannot be everywhere all the time. The more people that become radicalised, the increased likelihood that terrorist incidents will occur.

The third challenge is that attackers can quickly change their modus operandi at will. Security services, policing and society must not only keep up but stay ahead of the curve. That is why the Chief Constable and I are examining the option and cost of offering Taser to every police officer who requests one and who successfully passes the training. 

Finally, a thorough review must be undertaken to establish whether the current counter-terrorism strategy is working.

Meanwhile, it is an undeniable fact that resourcing across the totality of policing has changed and reduced. During the last decade, the citizen to police officer ratio has increased by 23%, rising from 381 citizens per officer in 2006 to 461 in 2016. This is due to both an increase in the overall population of 7% and a decrease in police officer numbers by 12%. Coupled with this has been a loss of a third of the PCSO establishment. 

These numbers are eye watering – 70,000 policing posts lost in a decade, at a time of increased demand and the now omnipresent terror threat.

Irrespective of who takes power, the need to re-invest in the totality of policing, not just in counter terrorism or urban conurbations, has never been a higher priority. 

With current resourcing levels, most rural forces across the UK would struggle to respond as quickly and as fully as the Metropolitan Police did on Saturday night. Policing needs more money and more resources in order to build a safer and more secure future.

I would urge people to remain vigilant. If you have concerns about radicalisation, report this to the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321 or 999 in an emergency.

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