Corbyn appears to row back on May resignation call

5 Jun

Mrs May has been forced to defend her record on police cuts amid increasing pressure over a 20,000 drop in the number of officers on the streets between 2010 and 2016.

Earlier, Mr Corbyn appeared to back the calls for her stand down over the cuts, but the Labour leader later claimed he was simply “articulating what is deep anger amongst those people that have seen 20,000 police officers lose their jobs”.

Talking to Sky News, he said he did not think she should resign, adding: “I think we should vote on Thursday to decide who our MPs are and decide who our government is.”


Theresa May says counter-terrorism budgets have been protected

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May: Counter-terrorism budgets have been protected

In a question and answer session on the campaign trail on Monday, Mrs May repeatedly refused to say she was wrong to cut police numbers while she was in the Home Office.

The PM insisted that counter-terrorism policing budgets had been protected and that the Government had funded an increase in firearms officers.

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The Labour leader accused Mrs May of trying to “protect the public on the cheap” by cutting officers, despite a Police Federation warning over public safety.

When asked if he would back calls for Mrs May’s resignation, Mr Corbyn said earlier on Monday: “Indeed I would, because there’s been calls made by a lot of very responsible people on this who are very worried that she was at the Home Office for all this time, presided over these cuts in police numbers and is now saying that we have a problem – yes, we do have a problem, we should never have cut the police numbers.”

David Cameron’s former aide Steve Hilton has also called for Mrs May to go and said she should have taken responsibility for the cuts she made while at the Home Office.

Mrs May insisted: “The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police has said that the Met is well-resourced, and they are, and that they have very powerful counter-terrorism capabilities, and they do, we have protected counter-terrorism policing budgets.

“We have also provided funding for an increase in the number of armed police officers since 2015. We have protected all our police budgets.”

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Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick

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Met Commissioner: We face a ‘changing threat’

However, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick told Sky News on Monday that with thousands of people prepared to carry out “low tech” attacks, resources and strategy should be reviewed.

She said that police and intelligence agencies had foiled 18 plots since 2013 – five in the last nine weeks – and that there was a “high volume of people who want to attack us”.

Ms Dick said she hoped the pace of the attacks in the last nine weeks would not become the “new normal”.


People running in the street fleeing terror attack in London.

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Gunfire in London Bridge attack video

“We have been, in many respects, extremely successful and we have built a very powerful machine but we have now seen these ghastly attacks in London and Manchester over the last several weeks.

“During that time we have also foiled another five plots so, yes, of course I think it is appropriate for us all to look at the amount of resource that the police have, both counter-terrorism police but also our neighbourhood officers.

“The majority of people who responded on Saturday night and are now keeping London safe aren’t counter-terrorism police, they are general police.”

Government figures show the number of police officers has fallen from 146,030 officers in 2010 to 126,766 in 2016, while the number of armed officers has dropped from 6,976 to 5,639 in the same time.

How the number of firearms officers have dropped. Source: Home Office
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How the number of firearms officers have dropped. Source: Home Office

However, in 2015 the Home Office did provide £148m for an extra 1,500 armed police officers by 2018.

According to the National Police Chiefs’ Council, there are 640 more armed police officers in 2017 than there were in 2016.

Mayor Sadiq Khan said London was getting half the funding for policing that it should be getting for a capital city and that the city was facing a £400m cut over the next four years.

He said that while the Met Police did a brilliant job despite the cuts, they needed more resources.


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Former counter-terrorism chief Jim Gamble said the “blanket of austerity had excused all sorts of cuts”.

In a blog for HuffPost UK, he wrote: “No matter how you cut it, no matter what spin you put on diversification of resource or doing things differently, there are 20,000 fewer police now than there were in 2010.

“That’s fewer eyes and ears on the street, fewer ‘bobbies’ building relationships, community confidence and critically creating that visible reassurance and deterrence that is key at times like this.”

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