Britain’s nuclear power plants and railway stations could be vulnerable to terrorist attack after the Government suggested three major forces could be at risk of cuts.
Ministers told MPs that a flagship pledge in George Osborne’s Comprehensive Spending Review last month to protect police budgets did not extend to other forces outside the Home Office’s budget.
This means that the British Transport Police, Defence Police and the Civil Nuclear Constabulary are at risk of budget cuts.
The Treasury admitted in a Parliamentary answer that a headline commitment to “protect overall police spending in real terms” applied only to the police forces funded by the Home Office.
Labour warned that the response meant the British Transport Police, Civil Nuclear Constabulary and Ministry of Defence Police will therefore be open to further cuts.
Rebecca Long-Bailey MP, a shadow Treasury minister, said the Chancellor’s claim to protect police spending “does not include policing our public transport system, guarding our military or protecting nuclear installations and materials.
She said: “This is deeply alarming given that the last two terrorist attacks in Britain were in a tube station and outside a military base, and nuclear facilities are an obvious target.
“He said he was protecting the police but he was really just trying to protect himself.”
British Transport Police has responsibility to protect passengers and prevent crime across the UK’s train network including the London Underground system.
Last week officers from the British Transport Police were among the first on the scene at the Leytonstone tube station following a terrorist incident.
The Ministry of Defence Police has a role in guarding military facilities including barracks. Labour pointed out that Drummer Lee Rigby was murdered outside Woolwich Barracks.
The Civil Nuclear Constabulary guards both nuclear power stations and the convoys transporting nuclear material, both long recognised as a high value target for terrorist attacks.
These forces will now be dependent on their own parent departments for funding in the wake of the Spending Review.
The Departments for Transport and Energy and Climate Change were particularly badly hit by the Spending Review, with budget cuts of 37 per cent and 16 per cent respectively.
While Defence spending will be maintained, a number of major projects are to be funded through swinging cuts to staff, likely to include the MoD police. The three forces have over six thousand officers between them.
The Spending Review set out unexpected plans to protect overall police spending in real terms, an increase of £900 million in cash terms by 2019-2020.
Mr Osborne told MPs: “I am today announcing there will be no cuts in the police budget at all. There will be real terms protection for police funding. The police protect us, and we’re going to protect the police.”
A Government spokesman said: “It’s ridiculous to suggest the government is not committed to funding the forces that keep our country safe.
“Funding for other specialist police forces is not provided by a central government grant and comes from other sources, including industry.
“We are committed to funding our police forces across the country to protect Britain’s national security.”
Sources added: “The Civil Nuclear Constabulary was funded primarily by site licence companies that own and operate the 11 nuclear facilities that we protect and government funding provided to counter terrorism policing is ring-fenced.”