UK police not matching evolving terrorism threat

Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu has warned that UK police forces are not a match for the threat of Islamist and extreme far-right terrorism.

Speaking to the Home Affairs Select Committee, the country’s most senior counter terrorism officer reported that there are a record 700 live terrorism investigations and that Islamists and far-right extremists feed off each other. Approximately 80 per cent of the inquiries related to Islamist plots, while the remainder included extreme right-wing conspiracies.

Basu said of the terrorist attacks in Manchester, London Bridge and Westminster Bridge that there was a ‘sustained shift in that threat’ and that the UK counter terrorism machine ‘continues to run red hot’.

He commented: “The attacks demonstrated both the breadth of targets and methodologies employed have increased. The weapons used by attackers now range from homemade explosives to a family car or an everyday kitchen knife. The greatest concern to me comes from simple attacks on softer targets that are cheap to mount, easy to disguise and therefore harder to see and stop.”

Police and the security services have stopped 17 terror attacks since March last year – 13 Islamist and four extreme right-wing. Basu said that ‘matching the new threat requires new ways of working’, and that the reality is that police have not matched the current threat.

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