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'Budget cuts risk 26/11-style attacks'

As Britain braces itself for major funding cuts across the public sector, reducing funding for anti-terrorism measures will make Britain vulnerable to Mumbai-style attacks, a senior officer of the Scotland Yard has warned.

world Updated: Jul 05, 2010 19:37 IST

As Britain braces itself for major funding cuts across the public sector, reducing funding for anti-terrorism measures will make Britain vulnerable to Mumbai-style attacks, a senior officer of the Scotland Yard has warned.

A figure of 150 million pounds is expected to be slashed from anti-terrorism budget, even as a think-tank said that al-Qaeda remained the biggest threat to British security.

As the fifth anniversary of the 7 July London bombings looms, many question the wisdom of effecting major funding cuts in anti-terrorism measures even though the terror threat level continues to be 'severe' in Britain.

Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner John Yates, reportedly told a closed door session of a chief constables conference that the Metropolitan Police would have 87 million pounds less for the anti-terror budget.

Specialist counter-terrorism units could be required to save up to 62 million pounds, he said, adding that cuts on that scale could not be achieved without a "rising burden of risk".

Yates said protecting the 2012 London Olympic Games remained a priority, but that would be costly. Yates, however, was publicly rebuked by Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude, for his comments on the ground that public servants should not indulge in "shroud waving" and should be concentrating on getting costs down rather than "alarming the public".

After Yates' speech to the Association of Chief Police Officers in Manchester, his predecessor Andy Hayman said: "We should be preparing for when the next attack happens - not if". "It is essential we prepare for every eventuality, from a dirty bomb to a Mumbai-type attack. Fewer officers means less coverage of dangerous terrorists," Hayman added.

Meanwhile, the Centre for Social Cohesion said many Britons of Pakistani origin were behind terrorist offences in the country in the last decade. It added in a report that over 2,000 people continue to pose a terrorist threat to the country. In its report titled 'Islamist Terrorism: The British Connections', the centre said that al-Qaeda or al-Qaeda inspired terrorism "remains the biggest threat to the UK's national security".