LONDON A British voter has angrily confronted interior minister Amber Rudd over police cuts, prompting her to deny that a suicide bomb attack in Manchester which killed 22 at a music concert was linked to falling police numbers.
The exchange highlights how police budgets are set to become a major issue as campaigning for a June 8 election resumes in earnest on Friday following a pause after the attack.
"We're now 20,000 police officers down, and we get atrocities like this. Does the government not expect this?" the voter, who was not named, asked on the BBC's Question Time on Thursday night.
Rudd said that counter-terrorism was adequately resourced, and denied that the cuts had hindered the authorities' ability to prevent Monday's attack.
"I don't accept that... We must not imply that this terrorist activity wouldn't have taken place if there had been more policing," she said.
However the voter replied "Well I think it is about police numbers, because it's low-level intelligence which gives you the information."
The opposition Labour Party pledged to boost police numbers by 10,000 as it and the governing Conservatives restarted national campaigns on Friday.
Government figures show that the number of police officers dropped by 19,000 between 2010, when the Conservatives returned to power as part of a coalition, and 2016.
(Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)