Timeline: Police Cuts, Security Failures, and Rising Immigration Under Theresa May

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Serving as Home Secretary for six years and now as Prime Minister for nine months, Theresa May has long presided over key national policies such as policing, counter-terror strategy, and immigration.

Now many will be looking to her record following Monday’s tragic attack in which 22 were killed in a suicide bombing, and as Britain fast approaches the snap general election.

Although far from comprehensive, here are some key moments from the era of Theresa May in government:

June 2010 – “Cuts Will Be Big”

Theresa May tells the Police Federation that, under the Cameron-Clegg coalition, “cuts will be big, they will be tough to achieve, and cuts will fall on the police as they will on other important public services”.

A double decker bus burns as riot police : News Photo
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November 2010 – “From the Hundreds of Thousands to the Tens of Thousands”

May claims “migration has enriched our culture and strengthened our economy” but admits that it reached unsustainable levels under the previous Labour Government.

“We will reduce net migration from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands. It will not be easy. It will take hard work and a great deal of political courage. But the British people want us to do it and it is the right thing to do. So we will do it.”

Immigration does, in fact, hit a record high of 252,000.

January 2011 – Record Number of Illegal Immigrants Allowed to Stay

Reports reveal that a record number of illegal immigrants are being granted leave to remain in Britain, including “killers, rapists and multiple offenders”.

August 2011 – Riots

There is widespread burning, looting, and destruction after the shooting of a gang member in London, with mass lawlessness in the capital spreading rapidly to other towns and cities in the country. Police, who come under the responsibility of the Home Office, are criticised by many for their slow and distanced response to the attacks.

Clean Up Across London After A Third Night Of Rioting : News Photo
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November 2011 – Border Checks Not Carried Out

May refuses to resign after it is revealed that “thousands” of people have entered the country without being checked.

March 2012 – Police Numbers Fall Sharply

Police numbers in England and Wales are down from a peak of 143,734 in March 2010 to just 134,101, with forces losing 5,000 constables in a single year.

Riots And Looting Continues Across London : News Photo
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

July 2012 – Border Agency to Lose 22 Per Cent of its Personnel

May defends the Government’s decision to award a contract to provide security at the London Olympics, worth hundreds of millions of pounds, to G4S – even after being forced to draft in thousands of soldiers at the last minute when the private firm admits it will not be able to fulfil the contract.

Meanwhile, the General Secretary of the PCS Union complains the UK Border Agency is set to lose 5,200 members of staff by 2015 – 22 per cent of its manpower.

December 2012 – More Immigration Promises

May tells the public they “can expect immigration to continue to fall”.

May 2013 – Soldier Killed by Islamists “Known to Security Services”

Fusilier Lee Rigby is run over and nearly beheaded by first- and second-generation Nigerian migrants previously known to security services.

Vigil for Fusilier Lee Rigby Ahead Of Tomorrows Funeral : News Photo
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October 2013 – Billboard Fiasco

May admits controversial van-mounted billboard campaign urging illegal migrants to “go home or face arrests” was a mistake after an evaluation reveals it resulted in just 11 people leaving the country.

December 2013 – EU Immigration Increases Rapidly

Net immigration from the European Union rises to 201,000 – up 43,000 on the previous year.

August 2014 – Net Immigration Rises 38 Per Cent

Net migration increases by more than 38 per cent to 243,000. (The final tally for the years ends up being an astonishing 313,000.)

Separate figures record that 25 per cent of births in England and Wales are now to mothers born abroad.

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December 2014 –  Border Force Morale at Rock-Bottom

Freedom of Information requests reveal the number of people who successfully evaded border security before being detected inside the country increased by around a third between 2012 and 2013.

Border Force officials tell ITV News the agency is “papering over the cracks” after a survey of 500 staff reveals 98 per cent believe they lack sufficient manpower to check vehicles for illegal substances and stowaways.

“Staff morale is the lowest I have ever known,” says one agent.

December 2015 – Net Immigration Well Over 300,000

Net immigration rises to 333,000 – a far cry from the “tens of thousands” still promised.

July 2016 – Migrant Crime Wave

Freedom of Information requests reveal that 897 migrants from Syria were arrested in 2015 for crimes including “rape and child abuse”.


August 2016 – One Million Illegal Immigrants

Former UK Border Agency chief Rob Whiteman estimates that up to one million migrants are in Britain illegally, and predicts that most will not be deported.

“[I]t’s a perfect storm,” he tells a Parliamentary Select Committee. “We’ve got cuts to the coastguard, we’ve got cuts to the Border Force, and you know from [Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration] David Bolt’s report last year that they’re poorly trained and poorly deployed.”

Migrants Cross Into Slovenia : News Photo
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

September 2016 – Police Numbers Collapsing

Police numbers in England and Wales have fallen by 18,991, or 13 per cent, since September 2010.

December 2016 – Gross Immigration Never Higher

Figures reveal that net immigration remained at a near-record 335,000 in the year to June 2016, which was Theresa May’s final year as Home Secretary. Gross immigration hit an all-time high of 650,000.

April 2017 – Ten Thousand Islamists

A number of people are run over and a police constable stabbed to death by Khalid Masood, an Islamist who was previously known to the authorities, outside the Palace of Westminster.

Anthony Glees, director of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies at the University of Buckingham, estimates there are between 6,000 and 10,000 radical Islamists in the country.

The Funeral Takes Place Of PC Keith Palmer : News Photo
Ian Gavan/Getty Images

May 2017 – ECHR Pledge Dropped, Manchester Attack

May drops pledge to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights and end the European Court of Human Rights’ jurisdiction over the United Kingdom.

She had complained the ECHR “makes us less secure” and “adds nothing to our prosperity” in April 2016.

On May 22nd, some 22 people, including a number of children, are murdered in a terror attack in Manchester.

A developing security picture around killer Salman Abedi, born to Libyan asylum seekers, suggests he had been in Syria, Libya, and Germany shortly before the attack.

Follow Jack Montgomery on Twitter: @JackBMontgomery