We worry too much about terrorism, says top cop

THE public worries too much about terrorism and should be confident that law enforcement agencies are working harder than ever to protect them, the new chief constable of Essex Police claimed yesterday.

Roddy Ashworth

THE public worries too much about terrorism and should be confident that law enforcement agencies are working harder than ever to protect them, the new chief constable of Essex Police claimed yesterday.

Jim Barker-McCardle, who is taking over from controversial chief Roger Baker, made the comments at his fist press conference since being appointed to the role.

But the claims appeared to fly in the face of a Government statement issued last week, in which Home Secretary Alan Johnson warned “an attack on the UK is a strong possibility” and urged people to remain “vigilant”.

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Assuring journalists that he had experience dealing with terror issues from his time as Deputy Chief Constable of Kent Police - which is responsible for Eurotunnel and the Port of Dover - Mr Barker-McCardle said the amount of cross-agency anti-terrorism work was greater than ever.

“Generally speaking, people have a higher anxiety about the terrorist threat than they need to have,” he said.

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He claimed his observation was “based on what we police know but often can't say anything about”.

He added: “The general point is that the ability of police forces and other law enforcement agencies to work together effectively has never been greater.

“My short term answer would be that the public should have confidence in the extent that law enforcement agencies and local and national government work together and co-operate.

“I have significant experience in working with other law enforcement organisations.”

Outlining his priorities for Essex Police Mr Barker-McCardle said he backed Roger Baker's famous warning to would-be offenders, in which the former chief constable said if they were planning to come to the county to commit crime they should bring a toothbrush as they would not be going home.

And he added: “If your ambition is to settle in Essex for a life of serious and organised crime, it is not about the toothbrush, it is about saying goodbye to your family and friends.

“If you want to plunder the county with serious organised crime, it is not just about bringing your toothbrush, you should expect a very long stay.”

He also said he stood by his predecessor's commitment to send officers to investigate every crime and report the results back to victims, despite the criticism it received from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary last year.

He added: “If the police were criticised before then they will be criticised again.”

Mr Barker-McCardle, 48, was speaking at a press conference alongside Police Authority chairman Robert Chambers at the authority's Chelmsford headquarters. He is due to take over as Chief Constable in September.

“I want to deliver increasingly strong frontline policing and a strong emphasis on neighbourhood policing,” he said.

“These are the issues that blight lives, whether it is rowdiness, anti-social behaviour - local policing issues in people's local community, streets and backyards.”

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said that as a chief constable Mr Barker-McCardle was entitled to express his own opinion on terrorism.

But she pointed to last week's statement by Mr Milburn, made when the official UK terror threat level was re-graded from 'severe' to 'substantial'.

In the statement Mr Milburn said: “An attack on the UK is a strong possibility.

“We still face a real and serious threat from terrorists and the public will notice little difference in the security measures that are in place, and I urge the public to remain vigilant.

“The police and security services are continuing in their thorough efforts to discover, track and disrupt terrorist activity.”

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