One Tweet this morning reminded me immediately of everything that is wrong with Public Protection in this country at the moment.
— Bosco (@Boscorelli55) November 14, 2015
I really don’t want to be scoring cheap points off the back of a real human tragedy like we have witnessed in Paris over the last few hours, but neither do I believe that it is right to stay quiet.
For the second time this year Paris specifically, and France in general, has endured an unthinkable onslaught. Charlie Hebo was bad, last night was simply bloody awful.
Apart from my immediate sympathy for anybody caught up in the unfolding events, I could not help but think “What if this was happening in London?”.
Despite the fact that the tragic events were taking place at possibly 5 different locations within Paris, albeit not too far apart, the Grndarmes were very quickly on scene and dealing. Within a couple of hours the French President had held his equivalent of a COBRA meeting, declared a National State of Emergency, a curfew was imposed in Paris and 1,500 troops were bussed into Paris to assist the Gendarmerie.
So how would we have coped if it had happened in London?
Well, we would have coped, because that is what we do, but how we would have coped is the issue really. We would have done our very best, just like we always do. But……..
The Army is the smallest it has been since the Second World War. It has been reduced to just over 80,000 and destined to become maybe as few as 50,000 before 2020. The face of warfare has changed, fair enough, but what about at home? Do we now whistle up a couple of Apache Helicopters and heir Hellfire missiles to deal with a ‘live’ terrorist attack in the capital? Could we truly send a few thousand troops into the capital at a couple of hours notice?
It is well reported what the Home Secretary is doing to the Police Service in the name of Reform, and more savage cuts are just about to be announced I fear, possibly a further 17,000 Police Officers above the 17,500 already lost.
The UK Border Force, our ‘Front Line’ against those intent on entering our country illegally, has also been slashed. The Home Office planned to cut their numbers by 22% by this year, Heaven knows what is planned for the next 5 years.
Finally MI5, MI6 and GCHQ are also suffering the same fate. Their iconic premises are under threat of being sold off and their numbers and resources reduced.
All of the above at a time when International Terrorism is, at best, unpredictabe, at worst, the threat is rising rapidly.
Moving troops and Police Officers around the country leaves a ‘black hole’ somewhere else. No single unit (not even the Met) now has the resilience to beef up its defences to meet such a threat head on. All resilience has gone. Forever if the government get their way.
How are we supposed to protect the public like this? And that is all we want to do.
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE Home Secretary swallow your pride and reverse these irresponsible and reckless cuts. Just let us protect our country like I believe the public want us to. Let us not have a 2015 Paris in London, or anywhere else in the UK.
Many people will hold you personally responsible if it happens. Think on that.