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Met chief warns of ‘hard choices’ as resources focus on counter-terrorism effort

Cressida Dick said her force has come under “huge strain” after a spate of attacks.

Police chiefs are facing “very hard choices” as resources are increasingly focused on the massive counter-terrorism effort, the head of Scotland Yard has warned.

Cressida Dick said her force has come under “huge strain” after London was hit by four attacks in less than six months.

Her comments echoed an assessment by Sara Thornton, head of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, who detailed how the response to terrorism was impacting other areas of policing.

(Victoria Jones/PA)

The interventions by two of the country’s top officers will prompt fresh scrutiny of the Government’s approach to police funding in the context of an unprecedented threat.

Terrorist incidents have hit the capital at Westminster, London Bridge, Finsbury Park and Parsons Green this year, and Ms Dick said the response to every attack requires an “enormous” number of officers.

She referred to experts’ conclusion that the flurry represents a “shift” rather than a “spike” in the threat, adding: “That puts a strain on not just the counter-terrorism police but neighbourhood officers and all our officers and staff.

“In the long run, if we continue with this level of threat, which is what people are predicting, I agree with Sara – this is not sustainable for my force.”

Ms Dick, who started as Metropolitan Police commissioner shortly after the Westminster attack, said saving people’s lives and stopping terrorism is always going to be her “highest priority”.

She told LBC radio: “We, of course, will also want always to answer emergency calls as effectively as we possibly can, and so on and so forth. But we will have to make some very hard choices.”

(Joe Giddens/PA)

Ms Dick added: “We’ve got emergency calls going up, we’ve got crime going up nationally and in London. Violent crime is a particular problem.

“It’s already putting a huge strain on the system. We are engaged in a conversation with the Government about our funding.”

In a blog published on Friday, Ms Thornton argued the “flat cash” funding settlement for forces announced two years ago is no longer enough.

She wrote: “Every time there’s a terror attack, we mobilise specialist officers and staff to respond, but the majority of the officers and staff responding come from mainstream policing. This puts extra strain on an already-stretched service.”

The Government said it “will do what it takes to keep families, communities and our country safe”.

A Home Office spokesman said: “That is why we are increasing funding for counter-terrorism by £3.4 billion and the Home Secretary announced £24 million in extra support for CT (counter-terrorism) policing in addition to the £707 million already committed for this year.

“We have also protected overall police funding in real terms since 2015 and we are sensitive to the pressures on police forces across the country.

“We are engaging with them on the demands they are currently facing.”

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