Terrorism Prevention in the UK
On 22nd March 2017, a terrorist attack took place in central London, next to the Palace of Westminster where the UK Houses of Parliament are located. 6 people, including the British born attacker, died as a result of the incident, making the attack the deadliest form of terrorism seen in the UK since the July 2005 bombings.
The terrorist involved, Khalid Masood, drove his car along the pavement on Westminster Bridge, aiming to hit the many pedestrians on the street. He reached speeds of up to 76mph before crashing into some railings next to Parliament. Once the car came to a stop, Masood got out and ran towards Parliament Square, where he stabbed an unarmed police officer at the gates. The officer, PC Keith Palmer, died of his injuries whilst 4 people on the bridge who were knocked down also later died. Two of these were also UK nationals, one was American and one Romanian.
The Response to the Terrorist Attack
Since the attack on Westminster, Police have been contacted by more than 3,500 witnesses, 1,000 of whom were on Westminster Bridge at the time, and 2,500 around Parliament Square.
There has also been a large response from the public in terms of tip offs of other potential terrorist activity, with over 3,000 reports made. The Police have said that although the majority of these calls have ended up being false alarms, it was “really heartening” to see the public assist them to keep people safe on the streets. Some of the information provided has resulted in further action for things that might have otherwise been missed. The response has also included around 300 referrals on extremist material that has been posted online.
The types of terrorist threat have evolved in recent years, which was evident in the Westminster attack. Rather than solely focusing on bombs that can cause massive destruction and injury, there are also more attacks carried out by lone individuals who are a lot harder to track. For example, using a car as a weapon or a lorry, as in the attack in Nice last year, is difficult for Police to prevent and therefore, any information gathered from the public which could help to stop them is very useful.
The official threat level for international terrorism in the UK has stood at severe - meaning an attack is "highly likely" - for more than two years.
Different Ways to Prevent Terrorism
The Prevent agenda is part of the Government’s strategy for dealing with the threat of terrorism and trying to stop the radicalisation of younger and more vulnerable people. The idea with Prevent is to try and stop potential terrorists from developing the will and desire to commit attacks, and so is the first stage of anti-radicalisation.
As with the response after the Westminster attack, the public is very important in preventing this as they can report people who may be showing signs of being radicalised. To report any instances, you can either call 999 or the police anti-terrorist hotline on 0800 789 321 to report an immediate terrorist threat.
Some things that may alert you to the possibility of being radicalised are included below;
Radicalisation – What to look out for?
There have been guidelines issued with a list of potential indicators that a person is becoming radicalised. Although these types of behaviour may be unrelated to radicalisation, if somebody is displaying any of them, it would be wise to direct them to Channel who are the Government organisation set up to deal with radicalisation. The list includes;
- Isolating themselves from family and friends.
- Talking as if from a scripted speech.
- Showing increased levels of anger.
- Becoming disrespectful & asking inappropriate questions.