French police were in a "severe crisis" before Nice attack

The claims were made by the president of a local regional council on the eve of the attack

French police were in a "severe crisis" before Nice attack

Lionel Cironneau / AP

France's National Police force was in severe crisis on the eve of Bastille Day celebrations, according to the president of the Regional Council of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur.

Christian Estrosi made the claim in a letter sent to the Elysee Palace 24 hours before the attack in Nice in which 84 people were killed and hundreds wounded.

As the fireworks display for Bastille day celebrations began to come to an end, Mohammed Bouhlel, a delivery driver with a criminal record for violence and petty theft, drove a 19-ton truck along the Promenade des Anglais.

Experts have been baffled as to how it was possible to carry out the attack at all as most thoroughfares would have been blocked with barriers against traffic, but the reason may simply be a question of numbers.

Mr Estrosi told Sky News: 'We had demanded several days before the attack that the state would guarantee the same security conditions like the ones organised at the time for carnival and the Euros.

"Everyone who felt menaced that night there and who maybe feel menaced every day have every reason to be angry.

"Above all, we must stop all the consequences once and for all. I see the same story at the photocopier: Charlie Hebdo, Bataclan, and now Nice."

But there were far fewer officers than at Euro 2016, begging the question as to why a local national holiday was under-policed by comparison. 

One senior security source told Sky News "one might have expected about 700 or more police" for the city.

Mr Estrosi told President Francois Hollande in his letter that he represented the views of police and other security services who believed that the time had come for a "grand plan" for policing as a matter of urgency.

"Our country is always in an unprecedented situation of peril which requires the mobilisation of our interior security forces every day," he wrote.

He added that the permanent threat of terrorism to France would require "a lot more than a mobilisation for each instant".

France has extended its state of emergency for another three months following the attack.