Armed police numbers have dipped by a fifth since 2010, virtually the exact figure deemed necessary to defend against a Paris-style terror attack, according to Home Office figures.
The revelation comes only weeks after Prime Minister David Cameron announced that 400 extra armed police would be deployed and 1,000 more would be trained.
The figures indicate that as of March 2015 there were only 5,647 armed police in England and Wales, a reduction of four percent and the lowest figure since 2009.
Given the shortage, back up plans include deploying up to 1,000 officers from Britain’s nuclear police force.
Simon Chesterman, the National Police Chiefs’ Council head of armed policing told the Times that the fall was in part due to merging national and regional armed units.
On Monday, US Director of Intelligence James Clapper told an audience at a Christian Science Monitor event in Washington DC that there were terror cells in England whose presence “was a concern of obviously ours and our European allies.”
“We continue to see evidence of plotting on the part of ISIL in the countries you name.” Italy, Germany and the UK had been mentioned.
He warned the terror groups had “to some extent” been using the refugee crisis and that increasingly militant technological skill – for example, advanced encryption – only afforded security agencies a “snapshot” of jihadist activity.
“We don’t have the total picture all the time – if we did, then the plots would easily be thwarted,” he said.
At the time of Cameron’s announcement of extra marksmen in early April, RT was told by former counter-terror detective David Videcette that “more armed police won’t make London safer.”
“At any one time in London there are several hundred armed police officers already on duty,” said Videcette, a lead investigator in the aftermath of the 7/7 London bombings.
“All the DPG are armed. All the ARVs are armed. And you will have other police officers on duty who have access to firearms if required. On top of that we have army barracks across London full of weapons. It is ridiculous to suggest that we need more,” he said.