It is time to cut police budgets

The police are whining about budget cuts. They protest that any cuts will reduce their ability to combat terrorism.


I doubt it. So does the Coalition. They have described it as "shroud waving". It is also a clear example of the police openly interfering with government policy making.

In 2008 the London Metropolitan police carried out 170,000 searches under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000. This Labour law allows the police to search someone without any suspicion that they are engaged in any wrong doing. A law that led to innocent people being publicly humiliated and alienated by unnecessary police searches.

The 170,000 searches led to just 65 arrests for terrorism offences. A success rate of 0.04%.

If the police have the resources to waste on Section 44 searches they are clearly over funded.

In fact, we have spent far too much on anti terrorism policing and need to cut back to levels which are justified by the level of risk.

The Blair government threw money and legislation at anti terrorism because they were afraid that the tabloids would criticise them for not doing enough.

The result was wasted money, oppressive legislation and a long list of unnecessary raids, unjustified arrests and failed trials.

It was another fiasco, by a government more concerned with spin than evidence based policy making.

All actions on risk should be proportionate to the level of risk, not to a fear of bad publicity. We need to focus our attention and resources on the most serious risks.

Air pollution might be one to start with. The Guardian reports that

"The City of London has been found to be one of the most polluted places in Europe after monitoring equipment recorded dangerous levels of minute particles for the 36th time this year.

"Air pollution is bad for our health. It reduces human life expectancy by more than eight months on average and by more than two years in the most polluted cities and regions," he said.

Poor air quality is now considered one of the biggest public health issues now facing the UK. A recent report by the House of Commons environmental audit committee included evidence that air pollution could be contributing to 50,000 deaths in the UK a year. A study commissioned by Boris Johnson, mayor of London, calculated that more than 4,300 deaths are caused by poor air quality in the city every year, costing around £2bn a year."

Deaths in London from terrorism = about 50. Deaths in London from air pollution =  4300.

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