Fewer police officers will patrol London’s New Year’s Eve celebrations despite four major terrorist attacks in the capital in 2017.
Scotland Yard will instead deploy a record number of armed officers in the city centre in response to the way Isil-inspired terrorists have attempted so-called “spectaculars” by going on the rampage.
Superintendent Nick Aldworth insisted that the Metropolitan Police would be have the right specialist officers and number of police “based on the threat”.
Although the force does not reveal how many armed police attend any single operation, it is believed more than 3,000 will be either visible or in covert roles on the city’s streets and Underground network for Sunday’s events.
Explaining how the force conducted it assessment following this year’s series of “tragic incidents”, Superintendent Aldworth said: “We are providing a proportionate number of officers based on the threat, number of people coming, and the secure environment we’ve been able to build.
“We have fewer officers policing here but they represent the appropriate number of resources that we need.”
He stressed that there was no specific threat and people should be “certain in the knowledge” that the operation is being led by an experienced team and London would be “a safe environment”.
However, the fact that people will see fewer police on the streets will highlight how officer numbers in Britain are falling.
Shortly after becoming the Met’s new commissioner, Cressida Dick warned that the force was “stretched” just as it was facing increased threats from terrorists, violent criminals and cyber crooks.
Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation who has seen the number of London officers he represents fall from around 32,000 to 30,000, warned: “If the financial stranding doesn’t change then we will go below 28,000 officers in a few years.”
Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott added last night: “Everyone deserves to be able to enjoy New Year’s Eve in safety. But it must be clear by now that Government cuts have left the police over-stretched.”
The number of police officers in England and Wales has fallen from a peak of 144,353 in 2009 to 122,859 last year. However, the numbers of armed police, particularly in London, has increased following terror attacks across Europe.
This year saw two attacks in central London, the first on Westminster Bridge, then London Bridge. A homemade bomb was also partially detonated on a London Tube train and a British man drove into worshippers at a mosque in the north of the city.
Meanwhile, a suicide bomber at Manchester Arena killed and injured scores of people, many of them children and teenagers. In total, more than 30 people have been murdered.
Around a half a million people will descend on London, with around 100,000 attending a fireworks display on the banks of the River Thames.
Concrete and steel barriers will be installed around the city’s biggest attractions as revelers are urged to be patient as bag searches and scans are carried out.
Article Source : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/12/29/fewer-officers-patrol-capitals-new-years-eve-celebrations/