The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police told Jewish lawyers on Wednesday that British police were not prepared to deal with a Mumbai-style attack in the UK.
In the attack in 2008, Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka were murdered with four other hostages and a total of 164 people when terrorists attacked three targets in India’s largest city.
But Peter Fahy told 35 legal professionals at an event held by Manchester’s Organisation of Jewish Lawyers that in the past few months there was “a heightened threat level of this type of attack in the UK”.
He said: “They could turn up in a shopping centre and the thing could be over in five minutes. The British police service is not set up to deal with that.”
He said armed police in the UK needed to go through “an enormous change” to counter a swift attack because current training meant officers only knew how to contain people with firearms but not how to engage in aggressive counter-operations. If an attack were to happen “there will be chaos for the first hour. We hope and pray that won’t happen”.
Mr Fahy also said that hate crime, especially antisemitic incidents, suffered “massive” underreporting by victims. He said this had to be set against a background of worrying statistics from the CST that Manchester had many more antisemitic attacks relative to London.
The admission contradicts claims by the CST that high levels of antisemitic attacks were down to better reporting.
Chairing the event, David Berkley QC said Mr Fahy well understood the Jewish community. He declared: “As a religious and ethnic community we of course have our own specific feelings of vulnerability.”