Speaking at a police and crime assembly on January 29, he said terrorists’ increasing use of online networks was putting a huge strain on the police force and that multiple suspects could not be followed all of the time without an increase in resources.
Following the Paris attacks, the UK government announced an additional £130m on top of the £564m national counterterrorism budget. The Home Office is yet to allocate the additional £130m which is set to be distributed to police and security services over the next two years.
In tandem, Stephen Greenhalgh, London’s Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, is calling for an extra £20 million of government funding to protect London. Greenhalgh said the amount currently earmarked for the capital is insufficient to cope with the threat from homegrown extremists and fighters returning from Syria.
“We are having an arrest nearly every day, 50 percent of the undercover counterterrorism work is here in London and half of the people returning from Syria are in London so there is a huge volume of activity that needs to be carried out,” Greenhalgh said.
In addition to increasing manpower, Sir Bernard said the Metropolitan Police is currently reviewing the number of armed officers in the wake of the Paris attacks andlooks set to train hundreds more officers to deal with possible gun attacks in London.
He admitted the number of police marksmen had fallen in recent years — currently, 2,700 officers are authorized to carry guns in London — and said one option was to train members of the Territorial Support Group as a firearms reserve.
The assembly also heard how Metropolitan Police officials are speaking to television stations amid fears that live coverage of police raids could compromise operations.
In Paris there was live TV coverage as officers engaged in near-simultaneous raids on two terror hostage sites. There was similar coverage in Australia during the Sydney siege and the fear is that hostage takers could be tipped off about an impending rescue mission, with the police or military losing any element of surprise.
In 2008, planners of the Mumbai attack based in Pakistan, watched live TV coverage and gave instructions via mobile phones to the terrorists on the ground.
A voluntary agreement with UK broadcasters is already in place but Sir Bernard said the recent talks were needed to refine this.
Meanwhile, the London Evening Standard revealed the results of a YouGov survey into capital punishment. The survey found nearly half (49 percent) of Londoners support the death penalty for murder during terrorist attacks, such as the killing of Fusilier Lee Rigby.
The gender divide showed 55 percent of London males believe terrorist murderers should be executed, with 42 percent of women voting the same. Britain abolished the death penalty for all crimes in 1965 and a return to execution would surely be a propaganda coup for the likes of the Islamic State and Al Qaeda.