Minister brands Met police anti-terror chief 'alarmist'

  • 2 July 2010
  • From the section London

A senior minister has criticised one of the Metropolitan Police's top officers over reports that he said cuts would raise the risk of a terrorist attack.

Assistant Commissioner John Yates warned that spending cuts could not be delivered without an increased risk of an attack, according to the reports.

The Times said Mr Yates described the Treasury cuts as "eye-watering".

But Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said public servants "should not alarm the public".

Mr Yates, who is Britain's most senior anti-terrorist officer, was reported to have made the comments at a private meeting during the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) annual conference in Manchester on Thursday.

According to the reports, he said cutting 25% from the police budget risked weakening defences against al-Qaeda and claimed counter-terrorism officers would need to make savings in the region of £150m.

Mr Yates was said to have told the meeting the Metropolitan Police (Met) would see £87m wiped from its anti-terror budget, while units across the country would lose £62m.

But Mr Maude said: "I'd like to avoid public servants doing this kind of shroud waving in public.

"There is a special responsibility on all public servants to be really careful what we say and what we do.

"It's going to be pretty important for people who are managing big public services like police forces to focus on cutting out unnecessary costs, driving down costs, being as efficient as they possibly can before they even begin to contemplate talking about alarming the public in this kind of way."

An Acpo spokesman said police forces had to face cuts in the same way as other areas of public spending.

"The home secretary has made clear that alongside other areas of public spending, policing must deliver its share of savings to meet the fiscal deficit," he said.

"No area of policing is immune."

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