UK counter-terror chief tells Israel conference that 22 plots foiled since 2017

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UK counter-terror chief tells Israel conference that 22 plots foiled since 2017

Neil Basu told the Herzliya event seven of the planned attacks were linked to far-right extremism, as he defended the government's Prevent strategy

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, speaking at a conference in Israel. (Photo credit: National Police Chiefs' Council/PA Wire)
Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, speaking at a conference in Israel. (Photo credit: National Police Chiefs' Council/PA Wire)

The UK head of counter-terrorism policing has revealed to an Israeli conference, that 22 plots have been foiled since March 2017.

Neil Basu, speaking at a conference in Herzliya, said seven of the planned attacks were linked to right-wing extremism.

The Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner was speaking in defence of Prevent, the Government’s anti-extremism scheme which will be reviewed in 2020.

Former terror watchdog Lord Carlile, who is carrying out the review, has not ruled out scrapping the scheme.

But Mr Basu said: “No-one who has challenged Prevent, to date, has had a better idea.”

He told conference delegates: “The challenges of 2019 are as great as we have ever faced.

“We need the whole of society to help spot danger and intervene earlier – remembering the maxim that it’s communities that defeat terrorism.

“Those communities need help from protective services unused to dealing with violent ideology – health, education and social care – and they need the help of the private sector.”

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu. (Photo credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)

He warned that “relentless media coverage” of attacks may encourage terrorists and “unwittingly amplify the threat”.

Mr Basu went on: “Rather than just treat the symptoms of terrorism we must treat the causes.

“Prevent, which offers a bespoke programme of support for vulnerable individuals, is the closest thing to a public health solution we have.”

However, he acknowledged that the scheme has “issues”.

“I promote Prevent but I do acknowledge its issues. To do otherwise would be to ignore opportunities to improve and would be a failure of leadership.

“It’s on its third iteration in 12 years and remains as controversial today as it was when it started. We need to ask why that is.

“It’s not the idea, it’s in the implementation and communication that we have struggled.

“We have failed to convince our detractors that we are on the side of the vast majority of the public, who want nothing to do with terrorism or its apologists.”

A spokesperson for the Community Security Trust, which works with the police to keep British Jews safe from the threat of terrorism, echoed Mr Basu’s remarks.

They said he made “similar points to his presentation at CST’s pre High Holy Day briefing for security volunteers and Police, held in our London office.”

Our community needs to understand what the Police are saying about the current threat, from Jihadists and the far Right, because it underpins CST’s own work and the need for continued communal cooperation, especially over the coming Chagim.”

Mr Basu said he would work with Lord Carlile on the review but would not give in to critics pursuing “their own agenda”.

Prevent places an obligation on workers in education, health and social care to report signs of extremism.

It has been criticised by some communities as government spying, and as discriminatory against Muslims.

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