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Britain police warn against cut in anti-terrorism funding

world Updated: Jul 02, 2010 16:23 IST

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The terror threat to Britain is still deemed "severe" and slashing police funding will make the country more vulnerable to terrorist attacks, a senior anti-terrorism officer has warned.

Britain will be left vulnerable to terrorist attacks under government plans to slash funding for counter-terrorism police by 150 million pounds, said John Yates, Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

Spending cuts of 25 per cent could not be achieved without weakening defences against Al Qaeda and the "eye-watering" cuts would force Scotland Yard to slash 87 million pounds from its counter-terrorism budget, Yates said at the annual conference of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) in Manchester.

He also claimed that the terrorist threat to Britain is still deemed "severe" and that protecting the London 2012 Olympic Games remained a costly priority, The Telegraph reported.

Yates warned that other units across the country would have to find 62 million pounds of savings, delegates who heard the speech said on Thursday.

The claims sparked fears among senior officers that entire counter-terrorism units would have to close down and this would lead to fewer surveillance teams to monitor terror suspects.

The counter-terrorism efforts could be hampered by the review of security legislation proposed by the government, including the use of control orders, 28-day detentions and surveillance powers, Yates said.

According to delegates, Yates said that it was the duty of police leaders to spell out to ministers what the cuts would mean "in terms of a rising burden of risk".

Speaking about the prospect of lowering the number of days that terrorism suspects can be held without charge, he said: "I don't think the police can get involved in the number of days again. It is for the politicians and government to decide how to balance civil liberties against the threat.

"However, the level of scrutiny involved is not well understood. We haven't explained well the level of scrutiny and that is the challenge."

He added: "Although we entered the debate in an entirely honourable way, it is for the police to describe the nature of the problem in terms of complex investigations of an international nature, and for parliament to come to the view of where the line between liberty of the individual and the threat lies."