Global catastrophe could be just two and a half minutes away, according to scientists behind the Doomsday Clock.
The new “time” was brought forward by 30 seconds, the clock’s keepers announced from Washington DC on Thursday.
The Bulletin Of The Atomic Scientists, an expert group formed in 1945, takes into account the likelihood of nuclear Armageddon as well as other emerging threats such as climate change and advances in biotechnology and artificial intelligence.
In a statement the Bulletin’s executive director Rachel Bronson, said: ” Today’s complex global environment is in need of deliberate and considered policy responses.
“It is ever more important that senior leaders across the globe calm rather than stoke tensions that could lead to war, either by accident or miscalculation.”
The world is now a more dangerous place than it was a year ago, the scientists said, referring directly to the election of President Donald Trump and alleged Russian cyber-hacking during the campaign.
Mr Trump’s comments on growing the US nuclear arsenal have been called “ill-considered” they said as they expressed concern at his “troubling propensity to discount or outright reject expert advice” on global security.
The scientists also described his appointments to environmental roles as people who “dispute the basics of climate science”.
It added: ” In short, even though he has just now taken office, the president’s intemperate statements, lack of openness to expert advice, and questionable cabinet nominations have already made a bad international security situation worse.”
The closest the clock, symbolising the threat of apocalypse, has ever come to striking midnight was in 1953, when it was timed at two minutes to midnight.
In that year the US took the decision to upgrade its nuclear arsenal with the hydrogen bomb, “a weapon far more powerful than any atomic bomb”.
In 2015 the clock was brought two minutes forward, taking it to three minutes to midnight.
Last year it remained unchanged, but scientists warned this was still “far too close”.
The Bulletin was founded by concerned US scientists involved in the Manhattan Project that developed the world’s first nuclear weapons during the Second World War.
In 1947 they established the Doomsday Clock to provide a simple way of demonstrating the danger to the Earth and humanity posed by nuclear war.
Today the Bulletin is an independent non-profit organisation run by some of the world’s most eminent scientists.
In a direct warning to world leaders and members of the public this year the board said: ” Wise public officials should act immediately, guiding humanity away from the brink. If they do not, wise citizens must step forward and lead the way.”
Total police workforce falls below 200,000 for first time since 2003
The size of the total police workforce in England and Wales has fallen below 200,000 for the first time in more than a decade.
Forces employed 198,228 personnel – including officers, civilian staff and PCSOs – at the end of September.
The tally fell by 6,201, or 3%, year-on-year – while it has dropped by more than 25,000 compared to a decade earlier.
It is the first time the total workforce figure has dipped below 200,000 since 2003.
Home Office figures showed an annual reduction of 2.2% in the number of police officers, which stood at 122,859 at the end of September.
This was a sharper fall than was seen in the previous two years, and continues a downward trend seen as constabularies face squeezes on their budgets.
Policing numbers have fallen under the spotlight again in recent weeks.
Earlier this month, Britain’s most senior police officer declared that the “warning lights are flashing” over crime.
Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe raised the alarm after figures laid bare the scale of fraud and cyber crime and showed a jump in violent offences recorded by forces.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has also warned it would become “near impossible” to maintain the number of officers on the capital’s streets if the force was hit with further funding cuts.
Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesman Lord Paddick, a former senior Met Police officer, said: ” The sheer scale and extent of these cuts is frightening.
“We are seeing police officers and staff cut from the front line when crimes such as robbery and knife crime are on the rise.
“Cuts, like this, year on year to the police are not sustainable if we are to keep crime under control.”
The Government insisted that police reform is working.
Policing Minister Brandon Lewis said: “Crimes traditionally measured by the Crime Survey for England and Wales have fallen by a third since 2010, to a record low.
“Through the 2015 Spending Review, this Government has protected police funding – and the public should be in no doubt that forces will continue to have the resources they need to cut crime and keep our communities safe.”
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