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Theresa May talks about the Queen's visit to Ireland, Osama bin Laden, Police cuts, and elected Police Commissioners on the Andrew Marr Show

Matthew Barrett

May Theresa Home Office Theresa May began her interview on the Andrew Marr Show by answering questions about Ireland. She emphasised the importance of the visit to British-Irish relations. Regarding the Queen's security, May said:

We constantly live looking at the issue of the threat of terrorism. We know that as regards Northern Ireland and Northern Irish related terrorism, there have been a number of attempted attacks earlier this year, as there have been in the last year or so. And of course there was the death of PC Ronan Kerr. And I think what was significant about that was the response that came from the Taoiseach about that, a unified response that came, but incidents like that are not going to blow us off the cause of democracy in Northern Ireland.

May also emphasised the importance of the fact that the recent elections passed by without major incident. Regarding bin Laden, May said:

Of course the death of Osama bin Laden has been a significant event but it does not mean that Al-Qaeda are dead and of course we still have the threat of action by Al-Qaeda... The threat level here in the UK remains at severe which means that a terrorist attack is highly likely. And it is of course possible that there could be reprisals. So we mustn’t lower our guard in any sense.

She said material relating to Britain from bin Laden's compound had been found by American intelligence, and that Anglo-American intelligence ties meant that such material would be relayed to the British Government. Andrew Marr asked whether there is an Al-Qaeda "sleeper cell" in London, and May replied that there was a high risk of attacks:

As I said, the threat level here in the UK remains at severe. That means that the threat of an attack by terrorists… is highly likely. And this is an issue that we  live with day-to-day, putting in place necessary arrangements with the Police and the security service to ensure that we can protect British Citizens.

May was then asked about Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones, who resigned on Monday. May denied there was any friction between them, and praised Baroness Neville-Jones, saying:

Pauline Neville-Jones did a very excellent job as a Security Minister and I am looking forward to carrying on working with her in her very important new role which she’ll be doing, dealing with cyber security.

Then May was asked about Police cuts:

First of all, it is a fact that we are having to make budget cuts from Police forces, as we are for the Home Office, for other parts of the Home Office’s operations and across Government departments. That’s because of the significant deficit that we were left… The Home Office itself, at the centre, is taking more than a 20% cut, we’re taking a 33% cut. But Government departments are having to make cuts because of the deficit we were left by the last Labour Government.

Asked about whether 12,000 was the number of Police officers that would be cut, she said:

What I would say is this: What we are very clear is it is possible for Police forces to make significant savings in their back and middle offices. It is possible for Police forces to make significant savings without actually affecting the frontline services that is provided to the public. That I believe is very important. People talk a lot about Police numbers, as if Police numbers are the Holy Grail. But actually what matters is what those Police are doing. It’s about how those Police are deployed. And it is crucial of course that chief constables are able to make decisions, within their budgets, about how they deploy their Police officers to the greatest effect to ensure that they’re able to get, do, the job that the public want them to do.

On the subject of elected Police commissioners - a policy voted down in the Lords on Wednesday - May said:

In the Commons, the Labour party has supported an element of direct election in terms of the oversight of the Police. It was sheer opportunism from Labour peers in the House of Lords.


On Police and crime commissioners it was in the Coalition agreement. And let’s not forget that actually we have an example of this already, it’s in the Mayor of London, and the Mayor of London has been working with the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, and I think delivering policing for London that is supported by Londoners.


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