Police cuts threaten riot response capabilities

West Midlands chief constable claims that current budget cuts mean that the police would face ‘real challenges’ to deal with riots on the scale of 2011.

Writing on the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) blog, chief constable Dave Thompson said that, following a number of high profile attacks in the UK, the ‘strain is showing’ and questioned whether the force would be able to handle ‘something like the 2011 riots again’.

Thompson said that, with the number of staff on hand falling, more investment was needed as there was currently no way to ‘deliver efficiency savings’.

Thompson said: “The funding forces receive needs to be stabilised with real-terms protection for policing as a whole. Last year we saw the prison service snap under pressure with riots in Birmingham prison. We cannot afford this to happen to policing but the strain is showing from recent weeks and we’d have real challenges in dealing with something like the 2011 riots again. When things break, recovery is never quick, and in policing it takes considerable time to recruit and train staff.”

Home Secretary Amber Rudd recognised the challenges the police force face, saying that recent police response in London and Manchester required ‘additional work’ in law enforcement, saying that ‘ we cannot carry on at that emergency level indefinitely’.

In August 2011, the police shooting of Mark Duggan in Tottenham, north London, saw civil unrest sweep across the country, resulting in some of the worst riots the country has seen.