England’s counter terror chief today warned that he does not have the resources needed to fight the growing threat from extremists.
By – Kate Ferguson
Neil Basu said the work of counter terror police runs ‘red hot’ as officers scramble to identify and thwart plots to kill on Britain’s streets.
He confirmed that 700 terror investigations are being carried out across the country, which has seen a ‘sustained shift’ in the threat posed.
He said that the biggest threat is posed by Daesh-inspired Islamist extremists but that the danger of the far right is growing in a ‘disturbing’ trend.
And he said that Britain’s counter terror police are not yet able to ‘match’ the threat posed by extremists and hostile states like Russia.
And he said that police forces are struggling and urged ministers to give the police force a long term cash settlement.
He gave the stark warning to MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee who grilled him on the state of play of counter terrorism.
He told MPs: ‘My predecessor Mark [Rowley] when he was in front of you a year ago today, quote – “despite our best endeavours we are not yet a well matched to the threat than we were a year ago”.
‘One year on I would like to tell you we are matched to the threat, but the reality is we are not.’
He added: ‘Matching that new threat, including now extreme right wing terrorism and hostile state activity requires new ways of working and for us to maintain our resource.’
He said that local police forces are struggling with squeezed budgets – and called for the police to be given a long term funding settlement.
He said: ‘I depend entirely on well resourced local police forces, from neighbourhood policing through the crisis response.
‘But it is extremely difficult for CT (counter terrorism) policing when we are constantly working to short term funding arrangements so a longer term funding settlement would greatly assist.’
Speaking this afternoon, he said the five terror attacks which killed dozens and injured hundreds last year ‘were not a temporary escalation of the threat, they are a sustained shift in that threat’.
He added: ‘The UK CT (counter terror) machine to this day continues to run red hot.
‘The attacks demonstrated both the breadth of targets and methodologies employed has increased.
‘The weapons used by attackers can now range from home made explosives to a family car or an everyday kitchen knife
‘And 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.’
He said that the ‘overriding’ threat to the UK remains Islamist extremists inspired by Daesh – also known as Islamic State – or al Qaeda.
But he warned that that there has been a ‘very disturbing’ rise extreme right wing activity.
Last year’s Westminster terror attack marked a step change in the threat posed to Britain’s streets, the MPs heard.
Five people were murdered and nearly 50 were injured when Khalid Masood, 52, ploughed his car into passers by in Westminster Bridge before leaping out and stabbing to death PC Keith Palmer in the grounds of Parliament.
Since then, 17 terror attacks have been thwarted since Westminster attack – including four extreme right wing terror plots.
Mr Basu warned MPs: ‘I expect those figures to increase.’
Read more: From 2018/09/08