Sunday, December 01, 2019

Protecting the public: responding to the London Bridge terror attack.

Our thoughts are with the two members of the public have lost their lives in this attack, and with their families, their loved ones and everybody affected by the attack. We pay tribute to the emergency services, the police, for their bravery and professionalism.

We also pay tribute again to the sheer bravery of those members of the public who went to deal with the perpetrator putting their own lives at risk.

Today, the Prime Minister has outlined how a Conservative majority government will keep people safe by stopping terrorists being let out of prison early.

He said:

‘Since becoming Prime Minister I’ve said we need a big change of direction on violent crime and security. What I have seen over the last 24 hours has made me angry -- it’s absolutely clear that we can’t carry on with the failed approaches of the past…

The terrorist who attacked on Friday was sentenced 11 years ago under laws passed in 2008 which established automatic early release. This system has got to end - I repeat, this has got to end, as I‘ve been saying for four months.

If you are convicted of a serious terrorist offence, there should be a mandatory minimum sentence of 14 years - and some should never be released. Further, for all terrorism and extremist offences the sentence announced by the judge must be the time actually served - these criminals must serve every day of their sentence, with no exceptions.

These simple changes, in line with what I’ve been saying since becoming Prime Minister, would have prevented this attack. I believe they will help stop further attacks and these changes will be made urgently in the New Year if I am Prime Minister and have a majority in Parliament.’

CONSERVATIVES ARE WORKING TO KEEP BRITAIN SAFE

We are ensuring counter terrorism policing has the resources it needs. At the Spending Round we announced that the budget for counter-terrorism policing would increase in line with inflation, including continuing the additional £160 million announced at Budget 2018, which maintains current counter-terrorism capability and protects officer numbers.

We are developing a new Counter-Extremism Strategy to keep people safe. Our 2015 Counter-Extremism Strategy was the first of its kind anywhere in the world, and our new strategy will reflect the changing nature we face from extremism whilst building on the positive work already delivered.

We are taking action to ensure there is no safe place for terrorists online. We will legislate to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online – including ensuring there is no safe space for terrorists to hide online (Conservative Party, Manifesto 2019, 24 November 2019, link; HO/DCMS, Online Harms White Paper, 26 June 2019, link). In October this year we signed a landmark agreement with the US which will make it dramatically easier and faster to obtain data from US technology companies, including terrorist content.

We are working to improve the safety and security of public venues, following the terrible events in Manchester in 2017.

We’ve committed to update the Human Rights Act so that our security services can defend our country against terrorism. Our 2019 Manifesto states:

‘The ability of our security services to defend us against terrorism and organised crime is critical. We will update the Human Rights Act and administrative law to ensure that there is a proper balance between the rights of individuals, our vital national security and effective government’.

This will include measures designed to ensure that we can extradite or deport those who threaten the people of Britain.

We’re putting 20,000 more police on our streets and giving them the powers they need to keep us safe. More police on the streets will aid our response to terror incidents, and powers such as stop and search will enable them to identify and apprehend knife carriers.

We will end freedom of movement, making it harder for those who intend to cause us harm to enter the UK and easier to deport those who commit offences. Free movement means any EU criminals can come and reside in the UK, but we will take back control of our borders and keep track of those who come in and out of our country.

In government the Conservative Party has extended counter-terrorism powers. The Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act gives the UK greater powers to crackdown on hostile state activity, ensures sentencing for certain terrorism offences can properly reflect the severity of the crimes, and prevents re-offending and disrupting terrorist activity more rapidly.

The Act also updated existing counter-terrorism legislation to reflect the digital age including the way in which people view content online. It also reflects the speed at which terrorism plots develop.

We are stepping up our efforts to tackle far-right extremism. Following the terrorist attacks in 2017, the joint MI5 and counter-terrorism policing Operational Improvement Review proposed an increased role for MI5 and the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre in extreme right-wing terrorism. Our counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST, addresses all forms of terrorism and no individual or group is free to spread hate or incite violence.

We are taking step to encourage integration and openness, addressing the root causes of extremism. We are tackling prejudice, racism and discrimination wherever it occurs while working to break down the barriers which hold different groups face.

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