Current cuts to the number of UK police officers will restrict the forces ability to respond to terrorist attacks like the ones in Paris, according to a former Scotland Yard investigator.
The attacks in Paris on 13 November which left 129 people dead came just a few days after Scotland Yard chief Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe warned that the governments planned cuts to the police budget by 25-40% would leave the force struggling to combat future terror attacks. More than 17,000 officers have been axed since 2010.
David Videcette, a former police detective with the antiterrorist squad who worked at the heart of the 7/7 London bombings inquiry, told IBTimes UK that Britains ability to deal with a terrorist attack would be diminished by the planned cuts to front-line officers.
I think at the moment the police and security services have adequate resources to deal with the threat as we see it at the moment. Obviously that can change. I think moving forward police budget cuts imposed by the current government will have a huge effect on the capacity of the police service to respond to an attack straight away.
What youve got to remember is an attack of the type you see in Paris, the first responders are the man and women you see driving around and they are your first port of call. And its those people that these cuts are effecting the most.
So our ability to deal with an attack on the ground straight away is probably diminishing and reducing. And going forward to 2020 the government had said they want to reduce police numbers from 130,000 right down to 80,000. Thats a huge, huge reduction, he said.
Videcette, who is about to publish his first novel based on his experiences as a detective during 7/7, The Theseus Paradox, also remained sceptical over the threat extremisits such as Islamic State (Isis) pose to Britains cybersecurity.
The UK Chancellor George Osborne, upon visiting the Britains Global Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) on 17 November, claimed that IS militants are trying to develop the ability to launch deadly cyberattacks on UK targets such as air traffic control or hospitals.
But Videcette dismissed the threat such acts posed compared to the dangers of an attack on the ground like the one in Paris.
Cyberterrorism or cybercrime is a massive problem, but with terrorism legislation is it a threat to life? Is it going to harm somebody in some way? Yes, they can cause damage and yes they can be financially damaging for companies and organisations to recover from these acts. But is it going to cause a threat to life and is it a threat to national security? he said.
In the wake of the Paris attacks the UK is set to double funding to fight cybercrime to Â£1.9bn ($2.9bn) over five years, with the Met Police increasing the number of armed response vehicles by a third. UK Prime Minister David Cameron has also told the commons the recent attacks in France also strengthen the case for bombing IS militants in Syria as well as Iraq, suggesting there could be a fresh vote on the issue.