UK police numbers have been cut, admits Culture Secretary Karen Bradley

But in an interview on Good Morning Britain, Ms Bradley repeatedly avoided answering a question on the subject when asked by Piers Morgan

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Indy Politics

Karen Bradley, the Culture Secretary, has admitted that police numbers have been cut over the past seven years as a result of the Conservatives’ austerity drive.

It comes after Jeremy Corbyn – speaking less than 24 hours after the latest terror attack in Britain – highlighted that 20,000 police officers were cut while the Prime Minister was at the helm of the Home Office. 

But Ms Bradley refused initially to be drawn on whether the numbers had come down in an awkward interview on Good Morning Britain. Asked about the cuts, she replied: “What I’m interested in is making sure we have the right resources, the right powers and the right training and capabilities.

“I am assured by the police that they have that to deal with the counterterrorism threat but we need to look [and] learn lessons and make sure that we act where appropriate, and we need a leader who is prepared to take those decisions, and that is Theresa May.”

Asked again by presenter Piers Morgan whether there was any reason Ms Bradley could not answer the question, she continued: “Piers, we are here to talk about how the attack on Saturday, how we react to that attack and how we make sure on Thursday that we have the right person elected to Downing Street.”

Pressed again, she added: “Piers we are here because on Thursday there is a general election.” 

But she later conceded on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that “we’ve seen reductions in police numbers across board”, adding: “We had to take difficult decisions in 2010 when we came into office. When as you remember there was no money. 

“It’s not just about numbers, it’s about powers. It’s about making sure police have the powers they need.”

On BBC Radio 4, Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, also refused to be drawn on Mr Corbyn’s policy to increase the police presence in the UK. She said: “You wouldn’t expect me to comment on that sort of thing right now as we’re in purdah and we’re about to have the election.”

But, she continued: “We would always want more resources and to use those resources more effectively.” Ms Dick also confirmed the police had foiled 18 attacks since 2013 and currently have 500 active investigations.

Seven people were killed and 48 injured on Saturday night when attackers rammed a van into pedestrians on London Bridge before stabbing people in bars in nearby Borough Market.

Isis claimed responsibility for the attack, the third major militant assault to hit Britain in less than three months.