Reducing the risk posed to the public and preventing the development of safe spaces in which terrorists might operate are at the very heart of an updated Counter-Terrorism Strategy launched by newly-installed Home Secretary Sajid Javid during a speech delivered in central London.
The threat posed by terrorism is moving and evolving, not only here in the UK, but also globally. A marked shift was demonstrated by the appalling attacks in London and Manchester last year which cost the lives of 36 innocent people and changed those of many more forever. These episodes prompted a fundamental review of the UK’s Counter-Terrorism Strategy – ie CONTEST – to respond to the scale of the threat and the speed with which plots are now developing.
The end result of that review process is what the Government describes as a “new, more agile, flexible and co-ordinated approach” designed to better detect, disrupt and prevent terrorist attacks. Where attacks do slip through the security net, the objective of the new Counter-Terrorism Strategy is to help in limiting their impact and enabling swift recovery from them.
Central to the revised Counter-Terrorism Strategy is ongoing partnership working at the international, national and local levels between Government, involved agencies, the private sector and communities. This is going to be absolutely crucial.
The Government’s revised Counter-Terrorism Strategy will be underpinned by new legislation designed to enable the police and the Security Services to disrupt terrorist threats on an earlier footing. This legislation will amend existing terrorism offences, duly updating them for the digital age and reflecting contemporary patterns of radicalisation, while closing gaps in their scope (including making it an offence to repeatedly view streamed video content online). It will strengthen the sentencing framework for terrorism (including by increasing the maximum penalty for certain offences) in order to ensure that the punishment properly reflects the crime and better prevent re-offending. There’s also a desire for further terrorism offences committed overseas to be prosecuted in UK Courts of Law.
Sajid Javid commented: “As the threat evolves, so must our response. Ultimately, our approach is about ensuring that there are no safe spaces for terrorists to operate – internationally, here in the UK or online. Our greatest strength lies not only in what we do, but also in who we are and the values and freedoms we hold dear. That’s why everyone has a part to play in confronting terrorism. I want to say to all those who stand up against all forms of extremism that this Government stands with you. I stand with you. There is more for us all to do.”
The Home Secretary asserts that the threat posed by terrorism is one of the starkest we face. The biggest menace, of course, arises from Islamist terrorism, and particularly so Daesh, but it must be recognised that extreme right-wing terrorism is also a burgeoning peril. “Both exploit grievances, distort the truth and undermine the values that hold us together,” said Javid.
Indeed they do, which is precisely why preventing radicalisation and building resilience must be the core targets.