London terror attacks and Grenfall Tower fire show why it is vital to protect our police officers and firefighters from cuts

Picture: Ian Burt

Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

Westminster Bridge, the Manchester Arena, Borough Market, Grenfall Tower and now Finsbury Park.

Firefighters tackling a barn fire in Mundham, Norfolk.
earlier this year. Picture: NICK BUTCHER

Firefighters tackling a barn fire in Mundham, Norfolk. earlier this year. Picture: NICK BUTCHER - Credit: Nick Butcher

It seems that this year, the work of our emergency services across the country has been brought into even sharper focus.

In Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk, the cases our firefighters and police officers have dealt with may not have been as high profile, although many workers in our counties have provided support with each of those tragedies.

The work they do however is no less important, as they are also saving lives and keeping people safe at a time when they need even greater need of reassurance.

Praise is deserved for the way officers have responded to these terrible incidents, giving back-up to colleagues in London and providing extra security and patrols at a time when they are already busy.

Andrew Papworth. Picture: MATTHEW USHER

Andrew Papworth. Picture: MATTHEW USHER - Credit: Archant


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Over the years our emergency services have faced cuts, with Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service's funding dropping by £420,000 and police officer numbers in Norfolk falling from 1,650 to 1,472 over the past four years.

Most people understand the country's difficult financial situation and that savings needed to be made. Equally, most people would want their public services to be run as efficiently as possible.

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However when incidents like Grenfall Tower and terrorist attacks happen, it highlights just how difficult it is to make cutbacks.

When I was covering proposed fire service cuts in Suffolk last year, chief fire officer Mark Hardingham went to great lengths to show how often fire engines were not being used to demonstrate the need for cutbacks. Most people I spoke to however thought this rather missed the point - because when a big incident happens you often need many firefighters just to deal with that one incident.

If two emergencies happen at the same time, it leaves our police officers and firefighters incredibly stretched.

Firefighters and police officers are our ultimate insurance policy and we never know when we might need them. As the country potentially heads into an uncertain period with Brexit, let's hope our leaders remember this and give our emergency services the resources they need.

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