Labour leader vows to step up security by boosting manpower

LONDON • British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn promised his Labour Party would boost police, intelligence and security staff after criticising Prime Minister Theresa May's government for cutting police budgets as the Manchester terrorist attack became the central issue of the election campaign.

The party would add 17,000 officers and staff, including 10,000 police, to reverse the impact of Conservative cuts, according to an e-mailed statement from Mr Corbyn's office.

"Labour will recruit additional police officers, additional firefighters, additional prison officers and additional border guards," said Mr Corbyn.

"Labour will also increase staffing levels at the security and intelligence agencies - GCHQ, SIS and MI5 - in order to better ensure our collective safety."

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Mr Corbyn last Friday linked British military action abroad to terrorism at home, and put the focus on Mrs May's previous role as home secretary, the office that has oversight of the police. 

On Mrs May's watch, the number of police officers in England and Wales fell by about 15 per cent to 122,850, as of September last year.

Mrs May rebutted Mr Corbyn's claims by accusing him of saying that Britain had brought terrorism upon itself.

Labour said it was targeting an additional 3,000 firefighters, 3,000 prison officers, 1,000 security and intelligence agency staff, and 500 border guards. 

It would also ensure that the health service, schools and colleges receive adequate resources, said Mr Corbyn's office.

The party would also renew its commitment to upholding individual rights and civil liberties.

Mrs May, in a statement last Saturday, pledged to set up a statutory body to fight non-violent extremism and promote "pluralistic" British values and women's rights, which would advise the government on what laws or penalties are needed to combat extremist behaviour.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 29, 2017, with the headline 'Labour leader vows to step up security by boosting manpower'. Print Edition | Subscribe