What cost do we placeon safety and security?

Date: Friday 26th May 2017

Sir, There can be no right-minded person in the country who is not appalled at what happened in Manchester on Monday evening.

That such a happy event should end in tragedy is very hard to understand. Those who have lost family and friends or are suffering traumatic injuries deserve our sympathy.

Speculation is being made that the perpetrator was known to the security services and police and allegedly “nothing was done about it”. The full facts will no doubt emerge in the fullness of time. As a former senior police officer in a Midland city with a very high multiracial population, I know just how difficult it is to make judgements about the veracity of accusations and stories alleging all sorts of criminal activities.

Inevitably what action can be taken is directly proportional to the resources available and the seriousness of the allegation. Many false allegations are made and the role of the security services has to depend on a series of facts and in many cases the allegations prove untrue.

In the current climate of cuts to police forces over the last several years, I have no doubt that what was previously a priority has had to be downgraded on many occasions.

It is a sad reflection that the Army has had to be deployed because police resources are not adequate for the “policing tasks” which were formerly the role of the local police force. Cutting police numbers may cut costs, but what price do we place on the safety and security of the people of this country?

When the police force in London was set up in 1829, the first commissioner, Richard Mayne, said: “The primary object of an efficient police force is the prevention of crime, the next that of detection and punishment of offenders if crime is committed, to these ends all police effort should be directed, the absence of crime and the preservation of public tranquillity will alone prove if the police are efficient” — but if there are not enough police, how are we to be policed? Yours etc,