Five days after at least 76 people were killed in a double terror attack in Norway, the Norwegian police has admitted that they are unable to respond quickly to incidents directly outside the capital due to lack of funds.
After much criticism in recent days, Anstein Gjengedal, the chief of police in the the Oslo district, admitted to public broadcaster NRK on Wednesday that operational deployment is suffering from dwindling budgets. “We no longer have the capacity today that we had a few years ago.”
Police air support, according to experts essential to be on the scene quickly in a large country with little police density, was completely absent on Friday. Norway’s only police helicopter was not airworthy. Because there was no money for spare parts and sufficient staff, the deployability of the aircraft dropped from 24 to less than 18 hours a day between 2006 and 2010, an internal police report showed. A spare helicopter was cut out last year.
The Norwegian government responded quickly to the criticism on Wednesday by immediately giving the country’s police approximately three million euros (NOK 20 million) extra. The money is intended to hire 100 new agents, 95 in Oslo and five in Nordre Buskerud where the island of Utøya is located.
“Money should not stand in the way of police work,” said Justice Minister Knut Storberget. In ten years’ time there should be 2700 new officers, more than two extra per thousand inhabitants. | © 2011 Marcel Burger for ANP News Agency (originally published in Dutch on 27 July 2011)