Britain’s most senior anti-terrorist officer warned Government spending cuts cannot be delivered without increasing the risk of a terrorist attack.
Scotland Yard’s Assistant Commissioner John Yates said counter-terrorism officers would have to make savings in the region of £150 million as part of “eye-watering” Treasury cuts.
But he said shaving 25% from the police budget risked weakening defences against al Qaida.
The Metropolitan Police would see £87 million wiped from its anti-terror budget, while units across the country would lose £62 million, Mr Yates said during a private meeting at the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) annual conference in Manchester.
And he suggested a review of security legislation, including control orders, surveillance powers and 28-day detention, would have significant implications on the fight against terrorism.
One of the delegates who attended the closed session told The Times such cuts could result in the closure of regional counter-terrorism units with fewer surveillance teams to monitor terror suspects.
And the delegate said police could also see a decrease in resources dedicated to the fight against Islamic extremism. Meanwhile another person present at the meeting expressed his alarm, telling the paper the speech “alarmed me and should also alarm ministers”.
During the conference Mr Yates, who is also the head of Special Operations at the Met, reiterated the scale of the al Qaida threat, telling those present that it remained “severe” and was constantly mutating. Protecting the 2012 London Olympic Games was a high and costly priority, he added.
Acpo said it remains dedicated to public protection. An Acpo spokesman said: “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. No area of policing is immune. In counter terrorism policing, as well as every other aspect, chief officers are determined to protect the frontline as much as possible, driving efficiencies, collaborating and looking at all ways of saving money while keeping the public safe.”