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Further cuts to force 'an absurdity'

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Lord Ian Blair warns the Met will be a quarter less in size than when he left the force.

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Lord Ian Blair

A former Metropolitan Police commissioner says it would be "an absurdity" to further cut the force's funding after recent events in London.

Lord Ian Blair called for a rethink over plans to cut hundreds of millions of pounds from the force's budget, saying this would leave the Met a quarter of the size it was when he left office in 2008.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has warned the city has lost "thousands of police staff" since 2010, while the current Met Commissioner Cressida Dick said she would "obviously" be seeking extra resources.

"I think the crucial point now is to understand the cuts being considered, certainly for the Met, need reconsideration," Lord Blair told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"As far as I understand it they're supposed to lose a further £400 million by 2021, on top of £600 million in the last few years.

"That means the Met must be a quarter less in size than when I left."

Lord Blair, now a crossbench peer, went on to call for "no cuts", adding: "Looking at what is happening, the idea of continuously cutting the police service's budget seems an absurdity at this stage."

Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackay has said the Westminster and London Bridge attacks had put a "lot of stretch" on the Metropolitan Police.

The Metropolitan Police Federation has also warned that officers are fatigued and "stretched beyond belief" after a string of major incidents.

Lord Blair said these incidents would put extra pressure on specialist officers such as counter terrorism, adding: "It just seems a very strange time to be reducing the capabilities of a service which is holding the line against some terrible events."

The former commissioner said neighbourhood policing is crucial to building trust with communities, but is very difficult to maintain when major incidents happen and officers are needed elsewhere.

Lord Blair said it was "no surprise" Monday's attack at Finsbury Park Mosque had happened.

"There is this kind of new landscape of terrorism, which the new commissioner Cressida Dick described, where the weapons are knives from kitchens or just hiring a van," he said.

"It does create a very difficult problem for the police."

View on Police Oracle

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