Osborne refuses to rule out police cuts but vows 30% more cash for fighting terrorism including new unit to hack fanatics' phones

  • Chancellor to set out significant cuts to public spending on Wednesday
  • All ministers have now settled with Treasury ahead of Autumn Statement
  • Osborne says police service must 'make sure it is spending money well'
  • Counter-terror spending to rise to £15.1billion over the next five years

The budget for fighting terrorism in Britain is to rise by 30 per cent over the next five years, George Osborne said today.

But the Chancellor refused to rule out cuts to police numbers despite dire warnings about the threat to security in the wake of the Paris attacks.

Mr Osborne has now secured agreement with all departments over cuts to their budgets to be announced this week, but he suggested that the police service would be expected to 'make sure it is spending money well'.

Chancellor George Osborne today refused to rule out cuts to police numbers despite dire warnings about the threat to security in the wake of the Paris attacks

Chancellor George Osborne today refused to rule out cuts to police numbers despite dire warnings about the threat to security in the wake of the Paris attacks

Details of the spending review will be set out in Mr Osborne's Autumn Statement to Parliament on Wednesday.

The Home Office was one of the last departments to settle on the scale of its cuts, as Home Secretary Theresa May dug in to protect policing. 

Asked specifically to rule out cuts to frontline policing, Mr Osborne said: 'Every public service has to make sure it is spending money well, but we will make sure Britain is properly defended against the terrorist threat.

'You cannot have national security without economic security,' he told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show.

'If your budget is out of control, if you are spending money you don't have, then you can't keep the country safe whether on the streets of Britain or indeed in the Middle East.'

He went on: 'We made savings in the police budget in the last parliament and actually the number of neighbourhood police officers went up, the proportion of police officers on the front line went up.

Mr Osborne said it was right that the police should be forced to bear their share of deficit-reduction measures but promised more money for counter-terrorism operations.

The budget for fighting terrorism in Britain is to rise by 30 per cent over the next five years, the Chancellor said

The budget for fighting terrorism in Britain is to rise by 30 per cent over the next five years, the Chancellor said

Home Secretary Theresa May, pictured at a Christmas party in her Twyford, Berkshire this weekend, has now settled her budget cuts with the Treasury

Home Secretary Theresa May, pictured at a Christmas party in her Twyford, Berkshire this weekend, has now settled her budget cuts with the Treasury

BOOST FOR COUNTER-TERRORISM 

George Osborne today announced spending on counter-terrorism would hit £15.1billion over the next five years, 30 per cent higher than the last five. It includes:

  • More funding for counter-terror police to respond to marauding Paris-style attacks
  • A new digital exploitation centre with experts able to extract data from phones and computers seized from terrorists
  • Upgraded border systems to better target guns and weapons being smuggled into the country
  • A joint operation centre to enable police, intelligence agencies and the armed forces to operate together

It is understood this will see the budget over the next five years rise to £15.1billion, up from £11.7billion over the last five years.

It will boost the ability of police to respond marauding Paris-style attacks. There will also be a new digital exploitation centre to extra data from mobile phones and computers seized from suspected terrorists.

Border systems will also be upgraded to better target weapons being smuggled into the country while a joint operation centre will see police, intelligence agencies and the military to work together more closely. 

Mr Osborne he said he was 'absolutely confident' the security services would have sufficient resources to keep the population safe if Islamic State launched a gun and bomb attack in this country.

'Precisely because we are making difficult decisions in other parts of our budget, we can give our military more kit, we can increase our counter terrorism budget by 30 per cent and we can also take action to prevent guns coming into this country and deal with gunmen on the streets'

'Increasing the counter-terrorism budget by 30 per cent involves money going to the police as well as our security agencies to make sure we can deal with marauding gun attacks, make sure we can stop the guns coming into the country in the first place.

'Of course the threat is omnipresent but I am absolutely confident we are going to have the resources to deal with it.' 

Labour's shadow chancellor John McDonnell said any cuts to frontline policing 'undermine our security'

Labour's shadow chancellor John McDonnell said any cuts to frontline policing 'undermine our security'

Mr Osborne added: 'In the summer Budget we took the decision to increase our defence spending and increase our counter-terrorism budget.

'These were decisions taken before the terrible events in Paris and, of course, those events in Paris throw a spotlight on the threat we face but, of course, that threat existed before that terrible event,' he told the BBC.

'So when it comes to the Spending Review, we are going to make the argument that protecting the British people is our first duty as a government, that economic security is a vital part of national security.

'And precisely because we are making difficult decisions in other parts of our budget, we can give our military more kit, we can increase our counter-terrorism budget by 30 per cent.' 

However, shadow chancellor John McDonnell said any cuts to frontline policing 'undermine our security'.

'I am saying to him directly, end the cuts to policing because all the police chiefs are saying you are putting our communities at risk. I will support him if he says, straightforwardly, policing cuts will not take place,' Mr McDonnell added.

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