- Manchester police officer warned May that intelligence on possible attacks had dried up following cuts to local policing.
- Award-winning officer Damian O’Reilly said he had quit due to the “collapse” of the local force.
- Police chiefs warn that decision to put troops on the street underlines pressure they are still under.
LONDON — Prime Minister Theresa May was warned two years ago that cuts to community policing in Manchester had put the city at risk of a terrorist attack.
One-time Community Police Officer of the Year, Damian O’Reilly, made a heartfelt appeal to May to reverse cuts to local policing which had caused intelligence about possible attacks to dry up.
“I have worked in inner city Manchester for 15 years,” O’Reilly told May at a Police Federation conference in 2015.
“I felt passionate about what I was doing [but] in 2010 I had to leave. I couldn’t take it any more because the changes that have been imposed have caused community policing to collapse.
“Intelligence has dried up. There aren’t local officers, they don’t know what’s happening. They’re all reactive, there’s no proactive policing locally. That is the reality ma’am.”
He added that: “Neighbourhood policing is critical to dealing with terrorism. We run the risk here of letting communities down, putting officers at risk and ultimately risking national security and I would ask you to seriously consider the budget and the level of cuts over the next five years.”
May, who was at the time Home Secretary, told officers that budgets would continue to be restricted.
At the time the police had seen a cut in funding of 18% with the loss of more than 17,000 police officers nationwide.
Watch: Manchester Police officer confronts May
The Chair of the Police Federation today underlined the scale of the problem facing officers.
Steve White, who represents rank and file officers in England and Wales, said that while the deployment of soldiers on British streets was welcome, it only highlighted the strains British police were under.
“The welcome support of the military to free up armed officers and offer public reassurance will no doubt be managed in the same professional, resolute way,” he said.
“But, as welcome as this is, we cannot avoid the reasons it is needed at all. There is no ignoring the fact that we, the police, simply do not have the resources to manage an event like this on our own.”
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