“Mrs May talks tough now but what did she do when she was in charge of the Home Office? She cut police numbers by 20,000. And now we’re paying the price in blood.”
By Piers Morgan, 04 Jun 2017
I’d just finished watching the Champions League final last night when I first heard the news of another sickening terror outrage on London Bridge.
It was a wonderful match, played in front of a large multi-cultural crowd in Cardiff, Wales, watched by a billion people around the world, and won in thrilling style by Real Madrid.
A reminder that football’s not just the planet’s most popular sport, it’s also a great unifier, bringing together all sections of society, regardless of wealth, class, religion or skin colour.
Then all the joy from this magnificent event was snuffed out in the eight minutes of mayhem that it took three jihadists to run over innocent people on a bridge then stab anyone they could get their hands on in various pubs and bars.
Today, it emerged that one of the murderous bastards who committed this new atrocity was wearing an Arsenal shirt when he was shot dead by police.
It was only a very small and inconsequential detail, but it stung me because Arsenal is the North London club I’ve supported since I was five years old.
His choice of team is so horribly ironic.
Arsenal was first formed in 1886 by workers from the Dial Square munitions factory in Woolwich, less than ten miles from London Bridge.
They used to make guns and ammunition, which is why Arsenal’s crest is embedded with a cannon and why the club’s nickname is ‘The Gunners’.
In other words, this pitiful coward supported a team that was created by people who specifically made arms for the British military, the very institution he doubtless most despised as the very worst kind of ‘infidels’.
If ever proof was needed of how stupid these people are, then this surely is it?
But stupid people can often be the most dangerous.
And the big question remains: how do we stop them wreaking their monstrous havoc?
Prime Minister Theresa May said all the right things today and exuded her preferred ‘strong and stable’ tone and rhetoric.
But this, lest we forget, was the same woman who when she was Home Secretary for six years slashed UK police numbers by 20,000.
That is a staggering number of officers to remove from the streets.
Mrs May was publicly warned of the dire consequences of her actions at the 2015 Police Federation annual conference,
One-time Community Police Officer of the Year, Damian O’Reilly, pleaded with her to reverse cuts in local policing in Manchester.
Theresa May cut police numbers by 20,000 during her six-year period as Home Secretary
‘I had to leave,’ he told her directly, ‘because the changes that have been imposed have caused community policing to collapse.’
He continued: ‘Intelligence has dried up. There aren’t local officers, they don’t know what’s happening. They’re all reactive, there’s no proactive policing locally. That is the reality ma’am.
Neighbourhood policing is critical to dealing with terrorism. We run the risk here of letting communities down, putting officers at risk and ultimately risking national security and I would ask you to seriously consider the budget and the level of cuts over the next five years.’
Mrs May’s response was to accuse O’Reilly and his colleagues of ‘scaremongering’ and to sneer: ‘This crying wolf has to stop. The last five years have shown that it is possible to do more with less.’
These words sound horrendously hollow today.
In fact, they sound shockingly reckless.
The only wolves I see on display are the lone wolf who attacked a pop concert in Manchester and the pack of wolves who attacked London revellers last night.
The only people I see crying are their myriad victims and their poor families.
Today, London was flooded with cops. I arrived back at lunchtime from a half-term holiday in France to be met by scores of heavily armed police patrolling City Airport.
On the cab ride home, it seemed like there were cops everywhere.
I was pleased. It made me feel safe.
But where the hell were they yesterday BEFORE this attack happened?
Where the hell will they be in a week or so when we all pack away our candles, end our vigils, bury our dead and move on again?
The truth, as Mr O’Reilly warned, is that our police force has been so badly decimated by these savage cuts it cannot possibly defend us properly.
When we’re told there are ‘extra police’ on the streets after each of these attacks, that doesn’t don’t actually mean ‘extra police’.
It means existing police, already overworked and exhausted, forced to cancel leave yet again or work longer shifts in the most gruelling of circumstances.
We need those missing 20,000 police officers back on our streets, fast.
We need more armed police, too. Staggeringly, we have fewer armed police now than we did in 2010. Yet as we saw last night, it is only armed police who can end these terror rampages fast enough to save many more lives from being taken.
We also need more undercover cops to infiltrate the Muslim extremist communities and especially the Saudi-sponsored Wahhabi mosques where these jihadis are being brain-washed and radicalised.
That is ultimately is the tactic we used so successfully to defeat the IRA – getting inside their world and breaking down their ability to trust each other with their nefarious plans.
And we desperately need more police to properly monitor the 23,000 suspected jihadists currently living in Britain.
We are at war and in times of war, we must unleash our full arsenal to defend ourselves and defeat the enemy.
In the case of Islamist terrorism, that means fighting them on the military battlefield, and in cyberspace, and most urgently, by empowering our police force to do the job they so desperately want to do: protect us at home.
The first policeman on the scene last night was a rugby player who took on all three terrorists with just his baton until he was forced to the ground and badly stabbed.
He is now in hospital in a serious condition.
That absolute hero risked his life to save others, as did the other police officers that raced to the scene, three more of whom were wounded.
They deserve our immense gratitude, but more than that, they urgently need our help.
Theresa May made a terrible mistake when she got rid of 20,000 police officers, and it has now come back to haunt her. We’ve lost much of our ability to prevent these attacks happening by taking away our eyes and ears to the ground from where the attackers emanate.
Like many, I wouldn’t trust Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott as far as I could throw them when it comes to protecting national security due to their hideously conflicting positions on everything from terrorism to our nuclear deterrent.
But one thing they have got right is the pressing need for more police.
When I see Theresa May standing there today saying ‘enough is enough’, I just wish she’d listened to our police officers when they said the exact same thing and she ignored them.
You dropped the ball Prime Minister and now you have the blood of your citizens on your hands.