Last night, three men armed only with knives and a white van carried out an attack on pedestrians at the south end of London Bridge, and then in the Borough Market area. There are many pubs and restaurants in the vicinity; all would have been busy on what was a warm Summer Saturday evening. Seven people lost their lives. It could have been many more, but for the swift Police response.
That response came so swiftly that eight minutes after the authorities had been alerted, all three attackers had been shot dead. The attack was over. But there were still injured parties to care for, bystanders to evacuate. Many lives had experienced the nasty jolt of crude terrorism. It was the third terrorist incident in less than three months, and the second in London. General Election campaigning has been paused until this evening.
And yet, and yet … political parties may have put their campaigns on hold, but the thought has already entered with many observers that there is a question screaming at us. These attacks are, increasingly, getting through, and there have for a number of years now been warnings about cuts to Police numbers, and especially to reductions in community Policing. Theresa May was confronted over the latter two years ago.
Moreover, as the Mirror has told, should the Tories win next Thursday, there would be more Police cuts in the five years to 2022. Nigel Nelson’s article explains “The cuts would begin to bite next year as 43 forces face a £332million funding shortfall which will continue year on year until 2022 … There are currently 122,859 police officers in England and Wales … The projected losses of 16,732 would bring that down to 106,127, below the 1978 levels of 106,732”. That is despite large increases in the overall population.
Theresa May this morning chaired a COBRA meeting, as is usual after such an attack, and she has come out and spoken about the length of terror-related sentences. I hate to have to point this out to the Prime Minister, but that is stuff all use after the event. We need a restoration of the community policing that, under her watch, has been decimated.
Only then can the collection and co-ordination of intelligence give the law enforcement authorities and security agencies the fullest picture of what is going on out there. Those same authorities were warned about Salman Abedi, the Manchester attacker, several times, but if their resources will not stretch to cover all those who should be under surveillance, some of them will be missed - and they will get through.
It also seems that Abedi was allowed to come and go between Britain and Libya - on the watch of the then Home Secretary … Theresa May. National political campaigning may have been suspended until this evening, but when the whole machine cranks up again, the finger will inevitably be pointed at the PM. And it will be no use her bleating “look over there at the Web”, or saying we’ll crack down by issuing longer sentences.
Staying alive beyond making their attacks does not appear to be part of the attackers’ modus operandi. So tougher sentences are irrelevant. We need more cops - and Theresa May is hell bent on going in the other direction. I’ll just leave that one there.
The threat of increased sentences seems somewhat hollow, when you consider that none of the attackers has survived a recent attack. It's not just shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, it's gaudily shutting the gate in Antarctica, and shouting you've dealt with the continents wild horse problem
There is a syndicated photo already published by the Mail that shows armed police on London Bridge with weapons raised - and on their backs it clearly shows British Transport Police. BTP (funded by rail passengers) have been taking on more and more "off railway" work over the past few years because the local forces are short of resources. And whilst BTP are out protecting the streets who is protecting the stations? There is signficant technical evidence (some of it published in american papers!!) that the Manchester bomb was not targetted at the concert goers on the uppper level but was being placed for next mornings commuters on the ground level and Abedi blew himself up as a result of a cock up.
We should press them on police shortages, but as with Manchester we should also press them on our insane foreign policy where we arm and finance terrorists in the Middle East and then get all outraged when they turn up on our own streets.
Apart from the horror visited on the victims and their families, the worst thing is that this is not the first time it has happened nor will it be the last. We all know it.
Even the expressions of grief are beginning to sound clichéd.
Future targets are likely to be vulnerable mass events.
It will remain so until the West has the courage to review and reverse its actions in the East. Proxy wars are not the answer. By now even the most reactionary dimwit might realise it.
Perhaps rather than cost, you should look at who the BTP are responsible to. (And who armed them.)
May was the first Tory Home Secretary to attack local Plod. This, together with her attacks on the internet and love of the spooks, suggest a move to central control, of everything. As for the longer sentences for suicide bombers...
Keep attacking May for cutting the numbers of the police and the military. They are so obsessed with slahing the State that they should be undercutting their own power base. I think Corbyn is getting the message but he needs to be pushing this even harder.
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