LONDON - One of Britain's most senior policemen has said that the British government should negotiate with Al-Qaeda in a strategy to end its campaign of violence. In an interview with the British newspaper, Sir Hugh Orde, head of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, said that he could not think of a single terrorism campaign in history that ended without negotiation. Sir Hugh, reportedly a front-runner to be the next commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police, said that 30 years of tackling the IRA convinced him that policing - detecting plots and arresting people - was not enough alone to defeat terrorists. He told the newspaper: "If you want my professional assessment of any terrorism campaign, what fixes it is talking and engaging and judging when the conditions are right for that to take place. Is that a naive statement? I don't think it is ... It is the reality of what we face. If somebody can show me any terrorism campaign where it has been policed out, I'd be happy to read about it, because I can't think of one," he added. Sir Hugh admitted that negotiating with "terrorists" means "thinking the unthinkable" and said that some of the biggest risks his officers took were talking to people that "historically they would not have dreamed of talking to". He cited his meeting in 2004 with the Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams as an example of how one-time enemies can become partners in peace. Asked if he was saying "we should talk to Al-Qaeda", Sir Hugh told the newspaper: "Well that's the logic of...I don't think that's unthinkable, the question will be one of timing." He also called for the number of police forces to be slashed from 43 to nine to better fight terrorism and gave warning that the threat from dissident republicans in Ulster was at its greatest in five years. Sir Hugh said Irish terrorists still wanted to bomb the UK mainland, but lacked the capability. They were still attempting to buy weapons but were disorganised, "psychopathic" and probably numbering no more than 200 people, he added.