Police chief: We couldn’t cope with riots again
THE West Midlands’ most senior police officer has condemned budget cuts, warning that forces would struggle to cope with a repeat of the 2011 riots which swept Birmingham.
Chief Constable Dave Thompson said forces would face “real challenges” tackling new unrest following years of pressure to cut costs. He urged the Government to boost investment, protect frontline policing – including bobbies on the beat – and cut bureaucracy.
“The funding forces receive needs to be stabilised with real terms protection for policing as a whole,” he said.
“Last year we saw the prison service snap under pressure with riots in Birmingham Prison. We cannot afford this to happen to policing but the strain is showing from recent weeks and we’d have real challenges in dealing with something like the 2011 riots again.
“When things break recovery is never quick, and in policing it takes considerable time to recruit and train staff.”
The recent terror attacks in London and Manchester saw police resources required on a vast scale, with the latter leading to a nationwide deployment of officers. Investment in counterterror policing has increased, along with partial increases for firearms officers.
But in a blog for the National Police Chiefs’ Council, Mr Thompson warned much of the response to major incidents came from core police budgets. The firearms commanders, casualty bureaux, custody staff, body recovery teams and uniformed officers patrolling crowded spaces that are so central to preventing and responding to a terror attack are paid for by core police funding,” he said.
“Over two-thirds of the policing effort after the Westminster attack was not counter-terrorism funded. This figure will be much higher following the Manchester attack.”